Ryan T. Dryer


Most sports fans have at least the limited understanding that collective bargaining agreements govern the employer-employee relationships between the owners of professional sports teams and players' associations. Indeed, sports have become a big business in the United States, and the media coverage of sports has extended beyond reporting statistics and scores to include all dealings associated with the business.' Every year (at various times depending on the sport), fans are bombarded with numbers detailing signing bonuses, salary cap implications, arbitration results, incentive-laden contracts, and a multitude of other terms that boggle the mind of the layperson. As most sports fans (and reporters) take a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude toward the performance of their teams and the organizations that assemble them, little attention has been paid to the historical progression that has led to the current state of professional sports. A historical analysis is critical to understanding why Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League 2 each have separate agreements governing their leagues. Such an examination helps to explain why the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) exist in their current structure. The articles of the various CBAs govern the professional sports players' compensation, the procedures for settling disputes, and address a myriad of other issues relating to the employer-employee relationship in sports.3 This comment will examine the history of the three most prominent leagues in U.S. professional sports, the CBAs that govern the employer-employee relationship in each league, the provisions of those CBAs that influence player contracts and contract disputes, the perceptions about competition that have resulted from CBA governance of the leagues, and possible solutions to problems that exist within those leagues.



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