The commissioner’s power to discipline players for on- and off- field misconduct

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Health Promotion and Human Performance

Publication Title

The Oxford handbook of American sports law


This article examines the power of professional sports league commissioners to discipline and suspend players for misconduct both on and off the field. It first provides a historical background on disciplinary measures for players in different professional sports leagues, including the National Football League, over the past century. It then considers the source of the commissioner’s power and authority to discipline professional athletes for misconduct as well as the rationale behind it, focusing on the adoption of personal conduct policies at the league level. It also discusses the commissioner’s authority and power to act in the “best interests” of the sport. Finally, it analyzes the limitations on the commissioner’s power and authority, including the collective bargaining agreements and some arbitration and court rulings that involved suspensions of players by league commissioners.