Global Sports Leagues and China's Free Speech Problem

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Thomas Baker

University of Georgia

Marc Edelman

City University of New York - Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business; Fordham University School of Law

John T. Holden

Oklahoma State University

Date Written: September 1, 2020

Abstract

The globalization of U.S. commercial sports leagues has produced a unique opportunity for sports business owners to expand into new markets, seek additional revenue streams, and contribute to the general practice of “sports diplomacy.” Nevertheless, the expansion of U.S. sports leagues into China has created a unique challenge for sports leagues based on China’s fundamentally different views of free speech, and attempts by Chinese business interests to quell speech that criticizes the Chinese government. This article looks at the legal and ethical challenges posed for U.S. professional sports leagues that seek to do business with China based on fundamental differences in free speech norms between the United States and China. In particular, this article explores the pressure both the Chinese government and its business leaders have placed on U.S. sports leagues to censure employees and fans who speak publicly on issues that are critical of the Chinese government, as well as the potential ramifications on U.S. sports leagues that adhere to Chinese pressure.

Keywords: Free speech, labor law, sport law, policy

JEL Classification: Z2, Z21, Z22, Z20, Z28, M14, L88, L83, L5, K4, K31, K20, K1, J7, J58, J53, J51, J48, J41, J00, A13

Suggested Citation

Baker, Thomas and Edelman, Marc and Holden, John, Global Sports Leagues and China's Free Speech Problem (September 1, 2020). Tulane Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Thomas Baker

University of Georgia ( email )

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Marc Edelman

City University of New York - Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way
Box B9-220
New York, NY 10010
United States

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

John Holden (Contact Author)

Oklahoma State University ( email )

201 Business Building
Stillwater, OK 74078-0555
United States

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