Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport
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Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport

Edited by Michael Barry, James Skinner and Terry Engelberg

Employment relations, much discussed in other industries, has often been neglected in professional sports despite its unique characteristics. The book aims to explore in detail the unique nature of the employment relationship in professional sports and the sport industry.
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Chapter 6: The evolution of collective bargaining in sports

James B. Dworkin


In this chapter I will trace the evolution of collective bargaining in the arena of professional sports. The history of collective bargaining in professional sports will be covered through a focus on seven crucial individuals who had an enormous impact on the development of collective bargaining in professional baseball, ranging from John Montgomery Ward in the early days of the sport to one of the modern day Commissioners, Bowie Kuhn. The second section of this chapter updates the state of collective bargaining in the four major sports in the United States: baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey. The chapter concludes with a look into the future and ten trends we are likely to observe. While I try to focus on the more positive side of professional sports, one does need to realize that there has been much recent attention on issues such as drug usage, gambling, racial prejudice and safety concerns (Pope, Price & Wolfers, 2013). While I do not herein cover these issues in any detail, the interested reader is referred to two excellent recent books covering the Peter Rose gambling controversy (Kennedy, 2014) and the Alex Rodriguez steroid drug usage situation (Elfrink & Garcia-Roberts, 2014). As I note in the final section of this chapter, these issues will continue to haunt all professional sports into the foreseeable future.

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