Privacy Policy Create Site Map

Major League Pickleball Players Band Together After Pay Cuts

Players Voice Concerns as Professional Pickleball Remains in Flux

December 18 2023
Major League Pickleball; Pickleball court; professional sport; pickleball tournaments; popular sport; PPA tour

Following months of turmoil amid the merger between Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), MLP players have formed a collective to self-advocate to the league, CNBC reported this weekend. The collective reportedly sent a letter to MLP leadership airing their frustrations over a 40% pay cut that MLP asked its players to take in late November.

Players' salaries currently range from $30,000 to $2 million annually. The pay cuts came in exchange for a 40% reduction in hours required of MLP players. According to the letter obtained by CNBC, the players were upset with their treatment during the pay cut negotiations more than the pay cuts.

“We understand the economic reality of pay cuts, however, lies, threats, deceitfulness, false deadlines, and the refusal to honor written addendums and agreements have no place in the league that we know and love,” the letter said, per CNBC. “If we are going to collaborate on contract modifications, we deserve honest answers to honest questions, and we have not received them.”

Some players claimed they signed with MLP over the PPA Tour to avoid these negotiation tactics.

How MLP Got Here

Pickleball; pickleball court; professional pickleball; major league pickleball; popular sport; play pickleball

The problem stems from an arms race between MLP and the PPA Tour, as both vied to become the primary league for the country's fastest growing sport. Each league offered players lucrative contracts to lure them away from the rival league amid a rise in the sport's popularity. However, now that the two are merging, these contracts no longer serve a purpose for the league and are a significant obstacle in its quest to be financially viable.

The letter included a survey taken by the collective of 65 MLP players. According to the survey, 89% of respondents felt as if they weren’t treated fairly during pay cut negotiations and 92% said that MLP leadership hasn’t answered questions they have about the pay cuts.

How MLP Owners Responded

In response, MLP sent a letter to its players on Thursday. The letter claimed the league has made enough pay cuts and won’t be making further salary reductions. It also notes that the league's payroll will grow by 300% next year, even after the pay cuts, due to MLP's rapid growth. 

One owner, quoted anonymously by CNBC, claimed the players have every right to be upset and the league needs to start listening to them.

“It isn’t all rainbows and butterflies,” the owner said. “Players are not happy. It’s not going well and they feel rightfully aggrieved.” 

Another MLP owner, Ritchie Tuazon of the California BLQK Bears said that a “unified player voice is only a positive thing” for the sport.

Where Professional Pickleball Goes From Here

Professional sport; pickleball tournaments; pickleball court; professional pickleball association; popular sport; PPA Tour

Although not technically a union, the collective represents most MLP players and even retained a lawyer, per one of its organizers, former Challenger Level MVP Jillian Braverman.

As the leagues and their players sort these issues out, the future of professional pickleball hangs in the balance.



Featured Podcasts