Global Sports Leagues and China's Free Speech Problem
49 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020 Last revised: 13 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 1, 2020
The globalization of U.S. commercial sports leagues has produced a unique opportunity for sports business owners to expand into new markets, seek additional revenue streams, and contribute to the general practice of “sports diplomacy.” Nevertheless, the expansion of U.S. sports leagues into China has created a unique challenge for sports leagues based on China’s fundamentally different views of free speech, and attempts by Chinese business interests to quell speech that criticizes the Chinese government. This article looks at the legal and ethical challenges posed for U.S. professional sports leagues that seek to do business with China based on fundamental differences in free speech norms between the United States and China. In particular, this article explores the pressure both the Chinese government and its business leaders have placed on U.S. sports leagues to censure employees and fans who speak publicly on issues that are critical of the Chinese government, as well as the potential ramifications on U.S. sports leagues that adhere to Chinese pressure.
Keywords: Free speech, labor law, sport law, policy
JEL Classification: Z2, Z21, Z22, Z20, Z28, M14, L88, L83, L5, K4, K31, K20, K1, J7, J58, J53, J51, J48, J41, J00, A13
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