Bargaining Power Dynamics and the Negotiation of Commercial Rights and Obligations: A Case of Athlete Agreements
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This qualitative case study explored how the structural power imbalance in high performance sport influenced the bargaining process and resulting commercial rights and obligations of a single Canadian national sport organization’s (NSO1) Athlete Agreement. Principles comprising the doctrine of unconscionability, specifically the identification of a power imbalance between contracting parties, and the exploration of how that power imbalance influenced the terms of the contract, provided a framework to analyze factors influencing the commercial contents of NSO1’s Athlete Agreement. The results of this analysis revealed that despite the overarching influence of the inherent structural power imbalance on all aspects of NSO1 and its membership, an athletes’ level of commercial appeal can reach such heights as to balance the bargaining positions of both parties and subsequently influence the commercial contents of the Athlete Agreement.