Public Policy and Professional Sports

Public Policy and Professional Sports

International and Australian Experiences

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

Public Policy and Professional Sports​is a comprehensive analysis of public policy aspects of the economics of professional sports, supported by in-depth international case studies. It covers regulation and competition in the sports industry and its labour markets, public spending on stadiums and mega-events, and governance issues including unethical behaviour (corruption, doping, etc). The innovative feature of the work is the combination of economic analysis and well-known international examples with detailed case studies​ of public policy as it relates to sport in Australia. Australia​is an excellent case study due to the high profile of sport in the national psyche and the range of popular professional sports.

Chapter 8: Regulating governing bodies

John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, sports, politics and public policy, political economy


The organization of sport is complex. Each code must agree on a set of rules by which to play and on how to determine overall champions. There must also be coordination between teams and possibly nations on the staging of events, and information relating to conditions. In the event of disputes, there is also a need for an arbitrator, and given the rules of sport are not entrenched in national laws, it is not feasible nor practical to look to the courts. For these reasons and others, in almost all sports governing bodies have emerged. Many of these have developed from simple ‘ rule-setters’ to being major organizations wielding substantial power over every aspect of the sport, including remuneration to players, location of events and the like. This chapter examines several aspects associated with governing bodies. First, we discuss the reasons for their existence and major roles that they undertake. Second, the various powers ascribed or taken by these bodies are discussed, ranging from anti-trust exemptions to an ability to override or at least avoid national and international law. Finally, we examine several governing bodies in the Australian context.

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