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

click to enlarge Bill that would end Sunday ban on football and baseball passes Pa. House
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepts a pass against the New England Patriots during the Pittsburgh Steelers home opener at Acrisure Stadium on Sun., Sept. 18.

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 Many of these acts were enacted several decades ago and are simply archaic and are no longer applicable in the 21st century. In addition, the existence of these outdated laws contributes to the already complex and confusing nature of government,” Dowling said in a co-sponsorship memorandum.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

Peter Hall is a senior reporter at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.