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Note: Congress Is Reinstating the Color Line: How the Save America's Pastime Act and the Judicial Antitrust Exemption Contribute to Racial Inequity in Professional Baseball


Racial inequity is a common theme in the United States, and America’s pastime is no exception. Black representation in professional baseball has been on the decline for decades since its peak of nearly 20%. The law compounds on inequitable economic and political systems to make it more difficult for Black American-born baseball players to survive in the minor leagues and eventually make it to the major leagues. The Supreme Court created a federal antitrust exemption in 1922 that was upheld in subsequent cases. Later, the Curt Flood Act of 1998 made the federal antitrust exemption inapplicable to Major League Baseball players but not Minor League Baseball players. The Fair Labor Standards Act protects workers by establishing the federal minimum wage and requiring overtime compensation; however, in 2018, the Save America’s Pastime Act exempted professional baseball from the overtime requirements. These laws allow major league organizations to pay minor league players below a living wage, essentially requiring that players have external financial support.

Protection of minor league players requires a solution that both (1) ensures players are paid a fair wage for their time working and (2) provides players with the flexibility to fairly contract their employment. To satisfy the first prong, Congress must repeal the Save America’s Pastime Act and replace it with legislation that protects minor league players from exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act. To satisfy the second prong, the Supreme Court must overturn the federal antitrust exemption for professional baseball. Together, these changes will provide an equitable playing field for all professional baseball players.