Tumultuous Waters of the PPA Masters Amidst MLP Player Discontent

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(Picture Kerry Pittenger)

The holidays may be over, but we still have things to celebrate. The PPA Masters Tournament was just a few days ago from January 9th through the 14th (Recap here). However, the tournament takes place on the heels of some rather shocking news, which may make the atmosphere a little less celebratory than expected.

In late November, the MLP asked major players to take a 40% pay cut from their salaries, with a commensurate reduction in work obligations. According to the Sports Grill, a typical salary for an MLP athlete can run anywhere from $30,000 a year to $200,000, due to variations in prize money. Regardless of what the players are making, a 40% cut is a big deal. 

Seeing as MLP was founded as recently as 2021, it is a relatively young organization and bound to experience growing pains in its first several years. However, many players aren’t giving the MLP or its leadership any slack and have formed a collective to voice their concerns. Made up of about one hundred players, the group penned a letter to the MLP which reads as follows:

Dear MLP Stakeholders,

The Player Collective has taken it upon ourselves to directly communicate our concerns with the current proceedings of an organization with whom we have all voluntarily chosen to align: Major League Pickleball.

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”.

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. If we are going to collaborate on contract modifications, we deserve honest answers to honest questions, and we have not received them. Put simply, we believe that MLP has departed from the ethos that we know and love and is instead embodying the exact ethos that we fled from when we signed multi-year deals with Major League Pickleball in August.

Sincerely,

The Player Collective

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As stated in the final sentence, these players signed with MLP precisely because they believed it to be an organization that would align with their ethics. It is disheartening to see so many talented players disillusioned by an organization that should stand behind them as they pursue their careers as professional pickleballers. 

To be sure, many players are not as concerned with the pay cut as they are with leadership. Most just want to play a sport that they love and not get caught up in the politics. But when a trusted organization makes seemingly threatening changes to a player’s livelihood, it’s difficult not to get involved. “We decided to form the collective in response to the immoral, unethical and arguably illegal negotiation tactics that are being used,” said one athlete. [source]. 

“I’m not upset about pay cuts specifically, and I am willing to do anything to support the future of the sport and play the game I love. But, I am not willing to accept bad treatment and feel disrespected and taken advantage of by the organization I chose to join.” said another anonymous player. [source]

With this upset in the rearview mirror, how will the pending PPA Tournament play out?

We’ll be here with the story!

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A burgeoning writer and amateur chef, Monica is passionate about people, languages, travel and culture. She’s lived in the Southwest, the Midwest, Italy, the East Coast, and the Midwest again, where she is a member of a local rowing team. A recent convert to Pickleball, she is happy to join the Pickleball Portal team and steal insider knowledge to perfect her game.

6 thoughts on “Tumultuous Waters of the PPA Masters Amidst MLP Player Discontent”

  1. Wow this is fascinating! I always assumed that corruption in pro sports evolved slowly over a long period of time but it actually makes sense that it’s just part of the thing itself. Keeps things interesting!

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  2. Has anyone figured out why they mismanaged a budget so badly that their most valuable assets (the players) are so radically devalued? Who does the books?

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    • Apparently, they made the cuts to ensure the long term success of professional Pickleball. I suppose they didn’t realize just how popular this sport would become, and they need to plan for the future!

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    • Hey Henry, it’s Dan from Pickleball Portal. They probably knew that they were overpaying the players but did it in the near term to convince players to join their league. A high-stakes pillow fight nonetheless..

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  3. I couldn’t agree more! The current state of the PPA Masters and MLP players is certainly tumultuous, and it’s refreshing to see someone addressing these issues head-on. As a passionate MLP player myself, I’ve been feeling frustrated with the lack of communication and transparency from the PPA Masters. It’s great to see a blog post like this shining a light on the problem and offering potential solutions. Keep up the great work!

    Reply

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