(Jacobin) -- There has been plenty of talk recently about exploitation in Minor League Baseball, in no small part because of the passage last year of the Save America’s Pastime Act. The law exempts Major League Baseball, a $12 billion annual business, from paying minor leaguers overtime.
What this means in practice is that athletic laborers who work fifty to seventy hours per week for five months of the year can be paid as little as $7.25 per hour for a forty-hour workweek (and receive no pay for spring training). Professional baseball players might strike it rich by scrapping their way to the MLB, but even in that best-case scenario, they will have practically served time as indentured labor en route. On top of poor working conditions, professional athletes also often grapple with emotional troubles commonly overlooked by fans.
Dirk Hayhurst is a former Major League and Minor League Baseball player, the author of The Bullpen Gospels, and a former baseball analyst for print and television. Nathan Kalman-Lamb — a lecturing fellow at Duke University and the author of Game Misconduct: Injury, Fandom, and the Business of Sport — recently caught up with him to talk about the question of exploitation in Minor League Baseball and other professional sports, as well as the seldom-discussed emotional consequences of a career in athletic labor.
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