Pros form “The Player Collective”

Pros form “The Player Collective”

DALLAS, TX - It’s official. There’s unionization in pro pickleball.

According to an article written by The Dink, some of the sport’s professional players have come together to form “The Player Collective” as a pathway to strengthening their voice and overall bargaining position with pro pickleball’s leading event providers, the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball.

The news comes on the heels of both MLP and PPA requesting players to consider salary reductions for the 2024 season and entering into negotiations with many of them that traded reductions for fewer days of work (MLP’s original contracts stipulated 200 days of work).

The article also cites an email from the Collective that shares the results of an anonymous poll measuring MLP players’ feelings about how MLP and PPA leadership have handled the reduction negotiations. While the survey states how many pros were contacted, it does not list how many of the pros returned answers to the survey or which pros gave input.

Here are the results copied from the email:

We recently surveyed the 103 signed MLP players, and found the following: 

89% of respondents believe they have not been treated fairly during the pay-cut negotiation process.

When asked: “Have you found that Anne, Bruce, John or other MLP staff have been able to successfully answer the majority of your questions?” 94% of respondents answered “No.”

88% of respondents believe that they are being punished for their loyalty to MLP.

When asked: “Do you think the PPA is of high moral character and integrity” 79% of respondents answered “No,” 21% answered “No opinion” and not a single respondent answered “Yes.”

The email’s postscript also provides anonymous comments from a few of the Collective’s player members.

Officials from the MLP and PPA Tour published a joint response:

“We've had extremely productive conversations with the vast majority of the 103 players who signed MLP contracts that start in 2024, many of whom have accepted a reduction.

Of the 43 Premier Level players who have made a decision, 40 of them have agreed to a salary adjustment. These reductions, in concert with meaningful financial commitments made by MLP's owners, are building a strong path to the long-term success of pro pickleball.

Any player is welcome to play on the PPA Tour, period. There is no punishment for not taking a reduction.”

Ben Johns, James Ignatowich, and other top pros have taken salary reductions and published comments supporting them. While you can bet that none of the pros wanted to take less money, many of them have cited long-term sustainability of professional pickleball as their goal when accepting compensation reductions. Even after payment negotiations, professional players will still see a 300% increase overall to salaries from 2023 to 2024.

It’s unknown at this point as to which players are unhappy with their contractual obligations and negotiation experience.