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After the ABL ceased operations a few years ago, the WNBA has been the only women’s professional basketball league in the United States. It currently has 12 teams, primarily in cities in which NBA teams play. It is a summer league that plays its games from May through September (when the NBA is not playing). Each WNBA team has a roster of 11 players and plays 32 regular-season games. ESPN2 nationally televises a regular season “game of the week” and all of the league’s playoff games. The WNBA currently is negotiating with both ESPN and ESPN2 to televise more games in the future. Because of the increasing popularity of women’s professional basketball, a group of wealthy investors is seeking to resurrect the ABL as an 8-team league with franchises in different American cities than the WNBA’s clubs. They plan to play a 24-game regular season, with each club having a roster of ten players. The ABL’s season will run from October through December. The WNBA’s commissioner is considering whether the league should increase its regular season to 36 games and allow 6 teams (rather than the current 4 teams) to participate in the WNBA playoffs. This would extend the WNBA’s season into late October. She also is pondering whether to recommend that the league go forward with its plan to expand into Boston and Dallas, two cities in which ABL franchises will be located. She also is concerned about the enforceability of a provision in the WNBA standard player contract that prohibits a player from playing professional basketball for anyone other than her current team while the contract is in effect. Advise the WNBA commissioner whether any of these proposed actions and the WNBA standard player contract provision violates §2 of the Sherman Act.
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