In today’s sports environment, written contracts dictate how billions of dollars change hands annually. "Professional Service Agreements" between teams and their players, agreements between players and agents, sponsorship and endorsement agreements between athletes and major companies or those same companies with various teams and/or arenas, media and broadcast deals with both national and international networks and various other contracts that shape the landscape of sports are negotiated with particularity, to try to outline and protect the parties from all possible circumstances. Most parties are typically concerned with the more immediately material terms of these agreements, such as: how much will a party pay or need to pay, how long is the duration (the "term") of the agreement, and what services will the parties have to give or receive to be compliant. However, the parties often do not focus adequately on questions like: what if something occurs that renders performance impossible or impractical? In today’s climate, focus on the latter has become urgently important. With the ongoing and constantly growing threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the “Force Majeure” clause is of particular significance, as it focuses on what happens if something occurs through no fault of either party, that disables performance and may determine whether or not a party continues to remain obligated under the language of the agreement.
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The Force Majeure clause, if properly drafted, will provide answers to questions such as: has the event made it materially impossible to perform no matter how long the parties try to do so, as opposed to an extended delay? Does the contract imply that continued payments must be made, or are payments cancelled or delayed until normal life resumes? During the force majeure conditions, does the contract allow for reduced payments or no payments at all?