2 comments on “Like It Or Not, The AFL Must Have Free Agency.

  1. Great post. Are there any laws (either statute or case law) in Australia that protect the monopoly of sports leagues? In the US the major sports leagues all ride the coattails of a court case from the 1920s that basically granted Major League Baseball a monopoly of professional baseball. That allows them to get away with all sorts of things that would not be permitted in other “normal” businesses, for two overlapping reasons. Since there’s no competition, the players can’t threaten to or actually take their services somewhere else, so they’re stuck with the rules as is. But conversely, again because there’s no competition, normal business laws and regulations don’t apply because they could unduly harm this monopolistic organization! Double whammy against the players.
    Are pro leagues in Australia covered by national governing bodies, or national sports policies, or do those apply more to Olympic-style sports? US NGBs (and their global counterparts) are my top culprits for similarly crippling athletes’ careers and the sports themselves (especially track and field) through restraint of trade, inhibiting athletes from making an honest living and operating a cartel.

    Love the site.

    • Thanks for your question!

      Australia has granted pro sports leagues several exemptions (such as the exemption for the AFL/Telstra agreement for broadcasting rights), although none as limiting as those in the US. They also do have governing bodies as well as national sports policies. In the AFL, in particular, there have bee several overhauls to the draft systems because the processes were absurd. For instance, they used to have a ‘zoning’ rule which meant that teams were only allowed to recruit players from specific areas, who had to play for the team that recruited them. This changed, however, when players complained that it was restraint of trade. Interestingly, the AFL does regularly change rules and adapt to situations where players are unhappy, which I think makes them an admirable league. Even with the presence of laws granting power to the league, I don’t think they’d ever become a league who doesn’t listen to the concerns of their players.

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