Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Employment ADR and the Professional Athlete

12 Appalachian J.L. 167 (2013)

31 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013 Last revised: 25 Jan 2014

Kendall D. Isaac

Fort Valley State University

Date Written: March 13, 2013


Over the past three to four years, there has been substantial activity in the world of professional sports relative to collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations. We recently saw the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) cancel a portion of its 2011-12 and 2012-13 season respectively due to stalled negotiations. In 2011, we saw the National Football League (NFL) lockout its players for a four-month span due to stalled negotiations, which resulted in the players decertifying their union and filing suit against the league. At the end of 2011, we also saw Major League Baseball (MLB) narrowly avoid a similar fate when it was able to renegotiate its CBA. Indeed, even Major League Soccer (MLS) continued to work through the expiration of its CBA while navigating through heated discussions in 2010. The past three years have been extremely active in professional sports negotiations.

In the "Scholarship" section of this website you will find the full article. This article begins by briefly looking at the history of collective bargaining agreements and the impact on employees and employment law. It then explores the employment rights of the professional athlete in particular and compares and contrasts the labor disputes that each of the five major professional sports organizations have undergone in recent years.

It should be noted that the focus is on the interest negotiations that take place at the expiration of a CBA, as opposed to the grievance negotiations that occur in the midst of an existing CBA. This is because a current CBA provides ample negotiation and arbitration options for a player engaged in a singular dispute. However, the best interests of the owners and players alike are in jeopardy as a CBA nears the end of its term, and a new agreement to govern the future relationship between the parties requires negotiation. There is also no discussion on the Sherman Act and the impact of antitrust law on these negotiations, as these topics have been discussed at length in other scholarly papers.

The focus is specifically on how these leagues negotiate at the most critical time for the owners, players, and fans alike — the expiration of a CBA. Currently, the possibility of strikes, lockouts, and cancelled games or seasons looms unless a new agreement can be timely reached. In the end, it is the hope of this author that the readers of this paper will develop an appreciation for the intricacies involved in these complex negotiations and notice trends that could lead to the best practices for future negotiations of CBAs.

Keywords: sports, CBA, NHL, NFL, MLS, NBA, MLB, ADR, dispute resolution, professional, athlete

JEL Classification: J52, K31, L83

Suggested Citation

Isaac, Kendall mname, Employment ADR and the Professional Athlete (March 13, 2013). 12 Appalachian J.L. 167 (2013). Available at SSRN:

Kendall Isaac (Contact Author)

Fort Valley State University ( email )

Fort Valley, GA 31030
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views