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Hooray For Sports Monopolies!

Monopoly, distributed by Hasbro, is the number one selling board game in world history. It has sold over 275 million copies and is played in 114 countries. It is also the number one cause of arguments and hard feelings at family get-togethers. Maybe tied with politics talk.

It starts with the choosing of your game piece. At least two pieces per game will get argued over before the dice are ever thrown. I personally will fight my grandmother MMA style to get the top hat.

While it may seem like good family fun to control every single business, we are taught at a young age, in history class, that monopolies are bad. Lack of competition means poorer quality and higher prices for the consumer. In fact, it is the responsibility of the United States government to break up monopolies wherever they exist. There are some monopolies so intimidating however, that even the US government is terrified to talk to them about it.


The NFL has had a long standing monopoly. Since the AFL and NFL merged in 1966, the league has only seen one potential competitor gain footing, and they crushed the pest like a cockroach. In 1986 the USFL filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, and a jury found the NFL guilty of anti-monopoly laws. The awarded damages were $1, tripled to $3 because of antitrust rules. That was the end of the USFL.

In 2001, backed by the modern day PT Barnum, the XFL was launched. It was goofy, and cartoonish, like its parent company. This would be the downfall of the league, as they learned that football fans don’t care about drama, just football. They tried it again, the right way, but the season was aborted due to Covid-19, and in 2020 it was sold to former WWE star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The NFL saw the writing on the wall this time. The reason the USFL posed such a big threat was because it would grab young college stars before they could get to the NFL to be the face of the league. The new XFL threatened to do the same (since no established players were ever going to jump from the NFL), and the NCAA-NFL partnership group created the NIL licenses. The best way to ensure top college talent doesn't play for your competitor is to make sure colleges pay them more than your competitors. It will likely end the same way as it’s first iteration, hoping that fans will bond with guys who used to be third string in the real football league.


There has been a lot of chatter regarding the new Saudi backed golf league, LIV Golf Invitational. It is billed and set up as a side tournament that PGA players can play in and make a few extra bucks (actually huge extra bucks if you check out the tournament purses). It is, however, a way to kick start a league competitor that top level talent would rather play in than the PGA Tour. Jay Monahan, the tour commissioner has come out recently and said that any player who chooses to play in even one event of the LIV, they will face punishment from the PGA up to and including fines, suspensions, and banishment. The size of the punishment likely depends on the size of the star. Dustin Johnson would get a fine, somebody who went to Q school and is in their first year would get banned.

The PGA has every right to do this. During the mp3 storage battles of the early 2000’s, Steve Wozniak would not have been allowed to help a company rival of Apple, while keeping his job at Apple. It is a great way to ensure that any start up tour, comprise itself of start up talent.


A similar threat and subsequent penalties kept FIFA from acquiring a rival in 2020. The European Soccer League (ESL), also known as The Super League, offered a tournament for clubs to participate in for big winnings, and would be set up as a competitive tournament to the Champions League. Since none of the profits would go to FIFA pockets, the league was squashed, and teams that signed up to play in the tournament received stiff penalties from FIFA. They were threatened with lifetime bans from their club leagues if they played in the tournament.

And so it seems that pro sports leagues are in fact monopolies, but none of us sports fans care. After all, it’s easier to watch all the top world talent play in one league instead of several. This is the end game of capitalism. To have one company rule the world. Hooray for sports monopolies.

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