Thomas Wilson of the LA Mad Drops hits a volley shot through the MLP Mesa Premier League Championships at Legacy Sports USA on January 29, 2023 in Mesa, Arizona.
Bruce Yeung | Getty Images
Pickleball’s rapid growth could also be coming back right down to reality.
Major League Pickleball is requesting that players consent to compensation reductions of 40% in return for a discount of labor obligations, according an email sent to players that was obtained by CNBC.
“We have now fastidiously studied the economics of the business and determined that certain changes must be made to make sure a sustainable and viable business that is not going to only survive but thrive in 2024 and beyond for the advantage of all stakeholders,” the e-mail reads.
The league’s proposal asks players to scale back their variety of annual work days from 200 to 120 and indicates it could cut their salaries proportionally.
“You can be free to monetize the opposite 245 days on the annual calendar any way you select – with 100% of any earnings on those days going to you,” the e-mail reads.
Players who do consent might be guaranteed a minimum of 10 slots in PPA events.
The league said it can also cut operational and event-related costs for 2024 and further revealed that it has parted ways with Commissioner Brooks Wiley. It follows one other major executive departure, with founder Steve Kuhn resigning in October.
News of the pay reductions was first reported by the Dink Pickleball. Each MLP and PPA declined to comment.
It comes as skilled pickleball has seen rapid growth in nearly every category and as Major League Pickleball and Skilled Pickleball Association are on the cusp of signing an on-again, off-again, on-again merger agreement.
As a part of the professional sport’s whirlwind rise, the leagues offered huge contracts to lure players to their respective leagues.
The MLP email notes the PPA has also been communicating with its players and has made similar requests for player compensation reductions.
Reactions have been mixed amongst skilled pickleball players.
“Aren’t there collusion/ anti- trust issues with this?” asked MVP and champion Jillian Braverman in a post on X, the social media site formerly referred to as Twitter, following the league-wide email. “We want to leverage collective bargaining ASAP.”
Two-time Major League Pickleball champion Thomas Wilson, nonetheless, said players are paid “greater than fairly even with the cuts.”
“I believe many of the players appear to be on board with moving forward together to make all of it work for everybody,” Wilson told CNBC.
Laura Vossberg Gainor, founding father of a pickleball marketing agency, said the long run of the game continues to be vibrant as she’s watched players reap the rewards of pickleball’s growth.
“The surge in the worth of their personal brands has intensified the off-court rivalry amongst brands vying to secure top players for product endorsements,” she said.