NBA age limit

Friday, April 22, 2005
This idea of an NBA age limit is ridiculous. Jermaine O'Neal said that the policy would be racist. I don't think the NBA or David Stern is TRYING to be racist but nevertheless I see the point that the policy itself would be racist since it would ONLY affect young black men. Only one non-black, non-European (but they don't count because Europe has professional leagues for young players) has ever been drafted out of high school, Robert Smith. That being said, I don't think it is racist but it doesn't stop it from being stupid.

Let me be clear about how I feel. I would prefer that most players go play some college ball, develop skills, and then go to the NBA. I think the game would be more fluid and you would see a higher skill level. But this isn't about what I want.

Why on earth should there be an age limit? Here are some common arguments.

Young Players need college to develop skills

Yeah because Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Lebron James, etc. really aren't very good players. I just named five of the top 10 players in the game. I don't think not going to college hurt them.

These Players need a fall back plan if they don't make it

Players drafted in the first round of the NBA draft are guaranteed a three year contract worth at least $2.3 Million dollars. Do you know of another profession that you can make that much money that young? If it doesn't work out after three years they can pretty much pay their own way through college.

Players need the guidance and discipline that college provides.

Have you seen the life of some college athletes. Remember the Hooker scandal at Colorado? You don't think favors are done for athletes to help them pass classes or money is paid to them under the table? Yeah teach them that others will do their work for them and that it is OK to break the rules. That's really teaching them values and is exactly what they need to learn to live in the NBA (I originally wrote that sarcastically but come to think of it maybe it is)

They aren't ready to play professional sports.

I don't see that stopping tennis or golf players.

But those are individual sports, basketball is different, it is a team sport.

Doesn't really stop Baseball from taking High School players does it?

Oh, but they have a minor league system

Gee, Soccer doesn't and they have Freddy Adu. And look, European players go pro as young as 14. I don't see society collapsing in Europe because of this. Give me a break.

But education is important.

Maybe for you it is but something my High School English teacher said to me that stuck with me. I openly questioned why everyone didn't just go to college. She said simply, "It's right for you but college isn't for everybody". Simple words yes but I had never really thought about it. Lots of people don't go to college and live just fine. Further if you are really going to worry about kids getting an education why don't you worry about the millions of kids who are unable to go rather than 5 or so a year who have an alternative, very lucrative, way to make a living.

It's better for the Game.

The argument goes that since these players aren't developing skills that the NBA isn't as watchable and thus hurts the whole league. OK, this one may have some credence but come on. When did we become a communist society? When did the "welfare" of the group take precedence over the RIGHTS of the individual. Just because I as a fan love seeing the skill of 4 year college player Tim Duncan doesn't give me the right to tell Kobe Bryant that he isn't ready and that he can't go earn a million dollars.

Besides, the NBA just announced the highest attendance figures ever. Yeah, clearly the fans don't like what they see on the floor.


Kat said...

i find it interesting that basketball is the only sport that's discussing age limits like this. what about football? baseball? those sports don't have problems with age?

David Cho said...

Or gymnastics? Figure skating? Don't these 14, 15 year old girls come back from the Olympics and turn pro?

Amanda said...

I don't think college is all that swell of a deal for young atheletes, anyway. The time commitment of sports for athletic scholarship students automatically precludes the most rigorous (and financially rewarding) paths of study. Most student atheletes end up majoring in "Comunications" or other less demanding subjects that can accomodate their athletic schedules - and even then it still takes them longer to graduate. Most student atheletes who don't go pro graduate with less education to show for their four years of injuries and hard work - and they are precluded from signing endorsement deals, too. I do think that putting immature teenagers on teams with more savvy adult atheletes is problematic, but it's a problem that the young atheletes, their families, and their agents should figure out without the self-interested "it's for your own good" admonitions of cash-greedy University athletic programs, and aging professional atheletes.