Sunday, June 7, 2009

NBA Age Minimum May Face Congressional Scrutiny

The Clarett decision discussed this post may be old news, but age minimums in pro sports were front and center again last week. Congressman Steve Cohen, D- Tennessee, lambasted the NBA’s age restrictions. (NYT reg. required)

“It’s a vestige of slavery,” Cohen said Wednesday in a phone interview, noting that most of the players affected by the rule are African-American. “Not like the slavery of 150 years ago, but it’s a restraint on a person’s freedoms and liberties.”

Cohen also invoked the tiresome analogy that an 18 year old can serve his country but cannot . . . blah, blah, blah.

Importantly however, he indicated his office is exploring the legalities of the rule, and that hearings before the House’s Judiciary Committee and legislative proposals are possible. This is commendable.

NBA Commissioner David Stern responded quickly in a press conference prior the game one of the NBA Finals, on Thursday. (NYT reg. required). Stern emphasized that the rule is simply a business decision. Doubtless it is good business -perhaps not on par with some of J.D Rockefeller’s “business decisions” allowing him monopolize the oil industry. But a good one for the NBA nonetheless, as they may temporarily forgo a little talent, they are able to pass on a fair amount of labor market risk to the NCAA, or perhaps now Europe. “Thomas Jefferson” Stern does manage an inappropriate analogy one-up on the Congressman, by equating his NBA rule to the Congressional age minimum of 25.

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