April 8, 2020
Will the players get paid? How pro sports contracts deal with disasters like pandemics
WHAT: Professional baseball and basketball players could lose large portions of their salaries if 2020 games are eventually canceled, according to reports by ESPN and the Associated Press, citing the terms of collective bargaining agreements between the leagues and players unions.
WHO: James B. Dworkin, a professor in the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, is an expert and author focusing on professional sports unions and collective bargaining, and an arbitrator in a variety of labor-management disputes. Dworkin says collective bargaining agreements often contain special clauses, called “force majeure,” that cover how operations continue when catastrophes like fires, floods or pandemics occur.
QUOTE: “Force majeure is in a lot of contracts in case of natural disasters like a pandemic. For every game they miss, they could lose a certain amount of money. Collective bargaining contracts in professional sports can be as long as a thousand pages. Every clause in the contract, including force majeure, is agreed to by both parties. When these kinds of clauses are agreed to, both parties hope they will never have to be enacted. The big question is will players be paid if games are not played due to this current coronavirus pandemic.”
MORE INFORMATION: Dworkin is author of the book “Owners Versus Players: Baseball and Collective Bargaining.”
About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.
Writer: Joseph Paul, email@example.com (working remotely but will provide immediate response)
Source: James Dworkin, firstname.lastname@example.org (available for phone and Zoom interviews)
Note to Journalists: An NBA stock image and a photograph of the professor is available to journalists via Google Drive.