Sport: Preseason Rhubarb

Calling them as it sees them, the U.S. Supreme Court has touched off a lot of judicial rhubarbs during the last three decades by trying to decide whether the monopolistic foundations of professional sports make them liable to prosecution under the federal antitrust laws.

Most of the argument swirled around the "reserve clause," a device basic to baseball and other big-time professional sports. It gives the owner complete control over the career of an athlete, who is no less an article of barter than a bale of hay. The owners' case for the reserve clause is that it prevents wealthy owners from...

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