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Constitutional law rarely applied to professional sport

By John O. Spengler, Paul M. Anderson, Daniel P. Connaughton, and Thomas A. Baker III

The constitutional rights and amendments that most often apply to the sport industry typically involve issues regarding freedom of speech and religion, due process, equal protection, and the right from unreasonable search and seizure. These rights and protections are found in the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments (see table 7.1).

A major portion of this chapter addresses these issues and amendments as they relate to interscholastic and intercollegiate student-athletes. Constitutional law usually is not applicable to professional sports, for two major reasons. One, athletes in professional sports are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. When a players union agrees to a collective bargaining agreement, certain individual rights are relinquished, including freedom of expression. For example, a professional athlete who makes disparaging and insensitive remarks about minority groups may be suspended by the commissioner for his remarks. Second, professional sports leagues are not state actors but rather private entities (Wong, 2002).


This is an excerpt from Introduction to Sport Law.

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