The Professional Athlete: Liberty or Peonage


  • Daniel I. Shapiro



A close scrutiny of the contractual relationship of the North American professional athlete with his team reveals serious restraints on the player's ability to freely choose his employer. The author presents detailed analysis of the four basic restrictions used in the major professional sports: the reserve system, the player draft, blacklisting, and the registration list. He then dis cusses current and proposed antitrust legislation in Canada and the United States, all of which appears to have little serious effect on the restraints which, the author suggests, violate antitrust law. In conclusion the author comments on the soundness of traditional arguments used to support such restrictions, and suggests that presently the only means available to athletes to challenge the stranglehold of clubs and leagues is through negotiation and possibly player strikes.