Labor Disputes in Professional Sports


Michael LeRoy, Professor, School of Labor & Employment Relations and College of Law, UIUC

Host: Craig Cohen

The National Hockey League is currently deep in a labor dispute that has led to the cancellation of some games, and could threaten the entire season. This fall, football fans were up in arms as the National Football League used replacement referees that botched a number of calls while the league negotiated a new contract with the regular refs. Last year, the NBA played a shortened season following a protracted dispute between the players and owners.

Why so much labor/management strife in professional sports, where the players are often millionaires and the owners billionaires, and everyone seems to be making money hand over fist? Who loses in these disputes? Do they reflect attitudes towards labor and management in society at large, or is this just a case of the very rich versus the super-rich? And, ultimately, why should we care?

We’ll discuss recent labor disputes in professional sports, and what, if anything, they tell us about today’s society, with Michael LeRoy, Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations and the College of Law at the University of Illinois.