Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross
Chapter 13: The Tampering Prohibition, Antitrust, and Agreements between American and Foreign Sports Leagues
Lewis Kurlantzick1 Practices that are commonplace and viewed as unremarkable in professional athletics would be regarded as unusual, if not bizarre, in more conventional commercial settings. Imagine, for example, graduates of medical and law schools being drafted by practices throughout a country so that for a period of time these doctors and lawyers would be limited to working for the one practice that drafted them (and be forced to seek employment abroad if they did not approve of the domestic employer by which they had been selected). Similarly, think of an employee of one company being ‘traded’ to another company, for which he would now be obliged to render his services. Among the more peculiar of these practices is the prohibition against ‘tampering.’ To recognize its unusualness consider the following highly typical scenario: A works for company X under a three-year employment agreement that will expire in three months. Company Y contacts A to discuss the possibility of future employment. A meets with a representative of Y over dinner. After a period of negotiation A agrees to come to work for Y when his obligation to X ends. Needless to say, this kind of interaction, which facilitates employment transition, is an everyday occurrence. And A regards it as advisable to have a new job before he departs his old job. But in much of the world of professional athletics, this interaction is banned! Under typical rules of professional sports leagues, a team – without special permission from the current employing club...
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