Headline Sports Law

Have Players Unions Outlived Their Purpose?

Have unions (other than the Major League Baseball Players Association) outlived their purpose?  It is a question that super-agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group posed in a recent New York Times article.  While I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Tellem in person, he is certainly very respected amongst the agent community and always seems to communicate very intelligently when he shares his words with the general public.  A couple of paragraphs from the NYT article:

For years, the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. have found their players associations to be unwitting partners. Rather than compete in a free market, management has exploited the weaknesses of unions to inhibit competition. By shielding owners from the scrutiny of antitrust laws, the unions have effectively allowed collusion. More often than not, the result has been union retreat — on salary caps, salary scales and taxes.

Something is fundamentally wrong when the only effective weapon in a union’s arsenal is dissolution. The hard-won early victories — health benefits, minimum wage — have been overshadowed by the sacrifices that players are now not just asked, but also expected to make.

Picture a scenario where the NFLPA decides it will remain a trade association instead of re-certifying as a union.  What then?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.