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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The role of the professional sports commissioner evolved from the early functionaries who were empowered to settle disputes between teams into nearly omnipotent sports czars. In the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, baseball team owners gave their first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, virtually unlimited authority to act in the “best interests.” Owners in different sports have tinkered around the edges of this broad portfolio over the years, but it is only since players unions were able to negotiate protections for their members that commissioners have been forced to accept a substantial check on their powers. Recent cases of commissioner overreach could set the stage for confrontations in future collective bargaining negotiations.

Keywords: commissioner, best interests, Landis, collective bargaining agreement, Black Sox

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