Title: Major League Pickleball Requesting Salary Reductions from Players
The world of pickleball, a rapidly growing sport, may be facing a reality check as Major League Pickleball (MLP) is requesting players to consent to significant salary reductions in exchange for reduced work obligations. An email obtained by CNBC reveals that players are being asked to accept a 40% decrease in compensation. The proposal comes as the league aims to ensure its long-term sustainability and viability.
Salary Reduction Request and Work Obligations:
The email sent to players outlines the league’s request for a reduction in the number of annual work days from 200 to 120, along with proportional salary cuts. In addition, players who agree to the salary reductions will be guaranteed a minimum of 10 slots in Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) events. The league emphasizes that players would be free to monetize the remaining days on the annual calendar and keep 100% of any earnings on those days.
Operational Changes and Executive Departures:
MLP also announced plans to cut operational and event-related costs for 2024, along with the departure of Commissioner Brooks Wiley. In addition to Wiley’s departure, the league had previously seen founder Steve Kuhn resign in October. Both MLP and PPA have declined to comment on the recent developments.
Impact on Professional Pickleball:
The salary reductions come at a time when professional pickleball has experienced rapid growth, with both MLP and PPA on the verge of a merger agreement after a series of on-again, off-again negotiations. The leagues had previously offered lucrative contracts to attract players, but now, they are seeking concessions to ensure long-term sustainability.
The request for salary reductions has generated mixed reactions among professional pickleball players. While some players have expressed concerns about potential anti-trust issues and the need for collective bargaining, others believe that the proposed reductions are fair given the current circumstances. Two-time Major League Pickleball champion Thomas Wilson stated that most players are willing to work together to make the necessary adjustments.
Future Outlook for Pickleball:
Despite the current challenges, Laura Vossberg Gainor, the founder of a pickleball marketing agency, remains optimistic about the future of the sport. She notes that the surge in the value of players’ personal brands has led to intense off-court competition among brands for product endorsements, indicating that the sport still holds potential for growth and development.