Should Sports Be Allowed to Strike?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do you think professional athletes get paid too much, or do you think that they should be allowed to charge whatever they want for their hours of training, discipline and dedication to sport?  In recent decades sports strikes have become increasingly common. Baseball and hockey strikes have interrupted seasons up to cancelling the vast majority of the games. Reactions to these strikes are often mixed. Some people think they should not strike at all, while others are more sympathetic.

The arguments that players should not strike are as follows:

  • Professional athletes already demand too much money for what they do.  They should not be allowed to strike for higher salaries.

  • The athlete’s seasonal income (some make millions of dollars) leaves them much better off than a year-long income of thousands. They can and should live off their savings during off-season periods instead of demanding to be compensated for those periods.

  • Strikes hurt the sport, and the entertainment value of the sport.  Fans become disgusted when they can no longer watch their favorite sport being played.  Over what – another million?

  • They are not being good role models for children.  They are not setting an honorable example. 

The arguments that players should have the right to strike are as follows:

  • There are many sports where participants earn significantly less and some athletes are not considered professional, so their earning power is much less.

  • While playing sport, both short-term injuries and long-term disabilities are likely.  Striking may in part help them to keep their health benefits.  If this was to be stripped out of a contract, then these athletes would have a lot to lose in medical fees.

  • Sportspeople work and represent a league and team owners pay and set their working conditions; for example, the length of the season, salary caps, wages, work hours, and other conditions of employment. The owners and managers are much like the businesses that fight with their employees for benefits. So, therefore, sportspeople should be able to fight for their fair working conditions as well.

  • Athletes generate massive revenues for leagues.  If the salaries of athletes are one contentious issue, then the salaries of team owners should be another contentious issue.

  • If athletes did not strike, then the leagues and managers would be able to conduct themselves in whatever manner they saw fit, and thus, could potentially hurt athletes or turn them away from sport.

While it is difficult for the struggling middle classes to sympathize with multi-millionaires on strike, athletes have a very tough day each and every day, and getting injured can sideline them for months or cause worse health damage. 

Weighing the positives and negatives of strikes, do you think athletes should be allowed to strike?