Player Restraints in Professional Sports Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


National Football League (NFL) free agency and player mobility restrictions

Sports have managed to become gradually a lucrative business, which has seen to the interest by investors to protect this business. Team owners, who are the main stakeholders, have imposed rather extreme measures or approaches to protect their teams from supposed manipulation from their players. Through the NFL, team owners have imposed the mobility restrictions on the players to retain them and generate revenue from the players, and subsequently retain them in the team.

The intention of the study is to critique relevant literatures on the topic, and provide credible data about the aspects of NFL, free agency and mobility restrictions on players.


This study relied on prior literatures. The search strategy employed used terms such as "NFL and mobility restrictions on players" to find relevant studies. The main exclusion imposed in the studies is the literatures submitted by students, for example, dissertations and thesis.


It is apparent that information from the studies suggests that the team owners generate revenue at the expense of their players. The main and consistent suggestion from most of them is that there is a need of free agency to ensure that players can choose their teams of choice. In addition, cases or litigation in the ordinary courts have found out that the mobility restrictions are extreme, and they cannot ensure a professional association among the players and the team owners. In addition, the dispute between NFL and NFLPA about the issue is the longest in history.


The studies show consistency that free agency is the superlative way to guarantee that there is competition in the market. In addition, team owners should give the players a chance to earn what they deserve. Moreover, even the court has come out to justify the players' concerns in relation to the exploitative nature of the mobility restrictions on players. A particular study justifies the "Franchise Player" adopted by NFL, suggesting that it has the capacity to reduce the high costs involved in the negotiation. However, the approach is still restrictive.

National Football League (NFL) Free Agency and Player Mobility Restrictions

Problem Statement

Sports have evolved to become a lucrative business venture, which has seen to emergence of many investors. Alternatively, this has seen to the development and observation of the sports law in an effort by the investors to protect their investment interests. Conversely, owing to the money involved in sports, team owners have also imposed their own rules, in an effort to protect their teams, particularly through imposing mobility restrictions to its players. Apparently, there are many mobility restrictions, which have also evolved over time.

They all serve the same purpose of protecting team owners from supposed manipulation from team players. However, it is not appropriate for team owners to restrict players, and impose their own mediated salaries on the players, considering the amount of money a single player brings or contributes to the team. In this context, it is also wrong for the team owners to limit the movements of players. Therefore, it is a problem in the context that as a profession, players might not be enjoying their professions, and they could be operating as slaves.


The study relied on prior studies. Therefore, the most appropriate method use to retrieve relevant information concerning the topic was through a literature review. Literature reviews are central to already existing literature on the topic, regardless of the year the study was conducted. In this context, literature reviews provide accounts of literatures undertaken by accredited scholars or investigators in relation to the topic of study. Then again, this study's aim is to give an evaluative study, which analyzes prior studies, only those relevant to the topic of study in an effort to unravel more information about the topic of study. In addition, the paper employed an online search. This followed search on Google and Google Scholar for relevant literature.

Search Strategy

Notably, NFL and player mobility is a historical phenomenon. It is evident from the literature, and this is because of literature dating back to the 1980s touching on the issue. Having no particular issue to look for, the search strategy included terms such as "NFL and player restriction mobility, NFL free agency, NFL free agency and player mobility, and player restriction mobility." In this context, the search strategy yielded a number of studies, which were relevant or showed some relevance to the topic of study.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

The study imposed exclusion and inclusion criteria. In this regard, any study that did not show any relevance to the topic of study was not included in the study. This means that any study, which lacked or failed to provide or obey the search strategy terms employed, were excluded. In addition, the study did not impose exclusion criteria based on the year of publication. This is because most of the studies, which showed substantial relevance to the topic, were mainly published between the years 1990-2013. The quality of the paper also mattered; in this context, papers from relevant or accredited authors, scholars, and investigators were included in the study. However, if there were papers submitted by students, such as thesis, or dissertations.

Body of Review

What the Studies Say

In the chosen studies, they all showed a consistency on the issue of free agency. In all the studies, it referred to the player's ability to have the freedom of choosing to sign with their teams of choice in the league. In addition, the renowned sports agencies, which include NFL, NHL and MLB, share this similarity, and they recognize that it is fundamental in the continuation of a free market. In addition, without a free agency, it would be impossible to realize the unfairness, and this is dangerous because team owners would exploit players (Chalian, 2012).

However, with free agency, there is the creation of a competitive market where players can negotiate with many teams, and this would allow them to receive benefits equivalent to their value. With the top three leagues sharing this crucial aspect, it would be possible to examine the adverse effects of variations in contract structures. In the past, people engaged in sports because of their love to the game; however, this is not the case anymore. Currently, players of all types of sports appear to be hired to play. Recently, it has become common for the players to maximize their salaries, and freedoms (Simmons, 2007; Depken, 2000).

This, therefore, has resulted to a counterattack from team owners who have fought to ensure that they retain as much revenue from the players, which has only created conflicts. As a measure or approach to mitigate the conflicts, players and team owners have opted to hold negotiations between the player's associations and the professional leagues. Historically, team owners imposed the player restrictions mobility in an effort to contain their players' salaries. They restrained the movements of the player through the reserve clause, which gave the team owner exclusive rights to the player's services and subsequently gave the owner the right to offer their desired salaries to the players.

In addition, the reserve clause forced players to accept the provided contract, and failure to accept this; they would lose their eligibility to play the sport. The college draft, which is still in existence to date, is another mobility restriction clause, which indoctrinated the players into the reserve system. In reference to the college draft, teams chose players who were later placed on the reserve lists. Still, there is another type of mobility restriction known as first refusal. In this context, first refusal operates together with the free agency restrictions to limit the player's movements, prior to them playing for the team for a particular period.

Failure of a player playing for the threshold years, when their contract expires, then, the players become restricted free agents and remain subject to the first team's right of first refusal. This restriction gave the team power to match any offer from external teams made to the players, in an effort to keep the player. However, when the player meets or plays for the team for the required time, then one becomes an unrestricted free agent (Depken, 2000).

At the phase, the player could sign with any of the available teams without any imposed limitation. Although there were a number of player mobility restrictions, prior studies suggest that the mobility restrictions failed, mainly because of the increased antitrust and player demands. This saw to the development of new methods, which also aimed to restrict player mobility. A typical example of the new techniques is the salary cap, and this enables the player's freedom to move intra-league; however, there are limits about the number of teams, which the player was supposed to undertake negotiations (Levine, 1995).


Mobility restrictions give the team owners power to manipulate the players, and this is why there are many conflicts between players and their managers, or team owners. Team owners…

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