Professional athletes are generally covered under workers’ compensation and are entitled to team benefits in many cases that are an offset against any workers’ compensation payments. There are some statutory and case law exceptions to the general rule, and the laws vary by the state and the sport involved.
Jockeys and professional boxers are the classic examples of athletes with workers’ compensation coverage issues in many cases. The jockey or professional boxer may be considered an independent contractor with no employer to secure their workers’ compensation benefits.
Professional football players (and baseball players) in a majority of states are covered by workers’ comp laws. The National Football League (NFL) players have experienced many injuries not only during their careers but also on retirement. NFL 1990 stats show that more than one-third of the 645 players with careers between 1940 and 1986 retired with injuries. Two out of three retired NFL players live with permanent injury.
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