The Lead

Bill that would end Sunday ban on football and baseball passes Pa. House

By: - September 19, 2022 4:59 pm

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – AUGUST 19: Jalen Hurts #2, Nate Sudfeld #7 and Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles run drills during training camp at NovaCare Complex on August 19, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Heather Khalifa-Pool/Getty Images)

Steelers and Eagles fans rejoice! Sunday night football could soon be legal in Pennsylvania.

The state House passed a bill Monday that would repeal a nearly century-old law that makes it illegal to play football or baseball on a Sunday, except between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Violations are punishable by a $10 fine.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Matthew Dowling, R-Fayette, said the legislation is part of an effort to clean up the state’s antiquated laws.

“Our Commonwealth has thousands of regulations on the books. Many of these acts were enacted several decades ago and are simply archaic and are no longer applicable in the 21st century. In addition, the existence of these outdated laws contributes to the already complex and confusing nature of government,” Dowling said in a co-sponsorship memorandum.

The bill passed the House 200-2. Reps. Bob Brooks, R-Westmoreland, and Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, cast the “no” votes.

Of course, the law hasn’t prevented the Keystone State’s professional football and baseball teams from playing on Sundays. Baseball games typically start as early as noon and football games begin as early as 1 p.m. or as late as 8:30 p.m.

The current limits on Sunday football and baseball games are a compromise struck in 1933, allowing afternoon games. 

The General Assembly has prohibited certain activities on Sundays since the 1700s, and while many Blue Laws remain on the books, most have not been enforced since 1978 when the state Supreme Court found them to be unconstitutional. A ban on Sunday auto sales remains in effect, although a ban on Sunday liquor sales was lifted in 2002.

The legislation now heads to the state Senate Local Government Committee.

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.