Do influxes of atypical labor make sport event workers prone to exploitation?

Christopher M. McLeod, John T. Holden, Matthew G. Hawzen, Tarlan Chahardovali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sport organizations that host events are pulsating organizations because they gain an influx of workers for a short duration. The influx often consists of atypical workers including independent contractors, seasonal workers, temporary workers, interns, prison workers, and volunteers. Atypical workers have fewer rights and protections compared with standard employees. So, when sport organizations swell to include these underprotected workers, they may create situations where worker exploitation or litigation are likely. The authors used an exploratory doctrinal-comparative analysis to examine the legal employment relations established between sport event workers and pulsating organizations. A doctrinal analysis of US Federal labor law revealed 13 worker categories, with distinct rights and protections, which may be found at sport events. The authors used exploratory methods to apply the categories to a season of college football home games at an FBS Division I University. Workers belonging to every category except one (prison labor) were observed. The findings confirmed that, when sport organizations swell, they tend to gain workers belonging to categories with fewer legal protections. It is also estimated that at least 28 percent of workers on any given game day misclassified themselves as volunteers. Subsequently, there is evidence that sport events, because of the influx of atypical workers, may create exploitive and sometimes litigious situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-539
Number of pages13
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Atypical work
  • College athletics
  • Event management
  • Human resources
  • Labor law
  • Precarious work
  • Pulsating organizations
  • Volunteers


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