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Pro athletes ought to bargain outside federal court, legal scholar says
Date:5/17/2011

y said. "If this litigation were not in the district court of Minnesota, which has a track record of favoring the players, we could be in a much different place right now. Another court say, the eastern district of Virginia, just across the Potomac from D.C. might have a more owner-friendly way of interpreting it. So the players certainly did well when they went court-shopping."

Professional sports are a major industry, with collective bargaining determining how the $21 billion yearly bounty is divided among players and owners. Since players utilize collective bargaining only when they have no other choice, labor peace is of vital importance for all parties.

"Players in all the sports fear the cost of labor disputes, not because they lack fortitude, but because their short professional careers magnify any potential losses of income due to strikes or lockouts," LeRoy said. "In the current NFL dispute, when U.S. District Judge (Susan Richard) Nelson talks about 'irreparable harm,' she's focusing on that very short window of opportunity that the vast majority of football players have to ply their trade. For baseball players, it's obviously not that short. But for football players, they have (careers that last an average of) 3.5 years to earn their money."

Professional football players have twice decertified their union and turned into a professional association to pursue antitrust litigation. By contrast, professional baseball players have held fast and walked off the job five times in the past 22 years to secure gains at the bargaining table.

"What doesn't get discussed too much is that baseball has this odd history," LeRoy said. "Nearly 90 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that baseball was not interstate commerce, meaning that it's exempt from antitrust law. The only way for players to get anything from owners was to form a union and leverage their power as workers to the max, which means going on strike and toughing it out, ove
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Contact: Phil Ciciora
pciciora@illinois.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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