WHY THE NBA SHOULD KEEP AN AGE REQUIREMENT (Response to Skip Bayless & Chris Broussard)

March Madness is upon us and the NFL isn’t the only league with an expiring collective bargaining agreement .  As the NBA CBA is set to expire, one of the issues the players want to put on the table is the requirement that kids out of high school play one year of college basketball before gaining eligibility into the NBA.  The players don’t like it.  Many in the media don’t like it.  On ESPN’s First and Ten, NBA analyst Chris Broussard made the point if they’re good enough they should get to play out of high school as athletes from other sports can.  On the same show, Skip Bayless referred to the rule as being unconstitutional.   Those arguments are as ludicrous and as out of touch with society as the media claims athletes can be.

Chris Broussard, you’re up first:  If I understand you correctly, because business A, B, and C chooses to do business a certain way, every other business has to do business the same way?  Does Hockey treat violence in the sport the same as the NBA?  No.  Does the NFL treat excessive celebration the same as Soccer?   Are the rules of your workplace identical to that of everyone you know or are there differences based on the needs of individual companies?

Lets look at why the NBA instituted the rule in the first place.  Athletes out of high school generally fit into one of the following categories:  Bust, future star, future contributor/role player, or drop out due to personal problems and or lack of ability.  So there are more ways that drafting an eighteen year old can harm you or cost you than help you.  Further, there is the belief that a year or more of basketball at the collegiate level will make for a better work force later.

One could retort, that players with college experience fall into the same categories.  However, all risks are heightened when you allow eighteen year olds, whose bodies generally are not fully developed and whose minds are generally not as mature to compete with men.  Contrary to your point Chris, many times these high school players are not good enough; they are drafted for their future potential and are educated on the team’s dime.  They have skills but lack fundamentals, and if the league wants to protect themselves from themselves and require a year of college experience before eligibility they have the right to try and minimize their risk and do so.

It is not the NBA’s responsibility to factor into the equation the needs of potential future employees beyond how they can help their league.  That is not meant to sound cold, it is a reflection of how it is for other business’ in America, and to point out that the NBA is not acting in a dastardly or unconstitutional way  (Really Skip?  Really??).  The fact that other sports let younger athletes compete professionally does not mitigate the NBA’s position.

Another argument Broussard made is even if the high school player doesn’t go on to be a star, he still makes a living.  He used Kwame Brown, the former number one draft pick of Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards as an example.  That’s great for Kwame Brown, but the Wizards didn’t draft him with the number one pick in the draft and pay him first draft pick money so that he could be a serviceable player.  Yes there will always be busts even if they go to college, but if the NBA thinks they can reduce the odds of that, right or wrong, that is their right.  Maybe with a year or two of college Brown would have been more ready for the NBA and had a better career.

Skip, you’re up.  You make a lot of good points on the show and can be very creative in making your presentations, however leave the legal arguments to Erik Kuselias cause you have clearly never taken a law class if you can point to this rule as being unconstitutional.  On exactly which constitutional amendment is your argument based on?

Skip is it unconstitutional for a business to require someone to have a four-year degree to get a job?  One of my first jobs was working in a group home for abused adolescents kids.  The job required a college degree.  Not a year or two in psychology, but a four-year degree with all the classes that have nothing to do with working with kids.  Having done the job, I can say I could have performed my duties without the degree just fine, as could other co-workers.  But then there were those that maybe they could not have.  Either way, it was the companies right to have that policy.

And while we’re on the subject of law, does the name Maurice Clarett and his failed attempt to sue his way through the NFL rule that make you wait three years after high school before you can join the NFL ring any bells?  Funny Chris, you didn’t mention the NFL as a sport that makes you wait longer than the NBA.

If Skip and the rest of the those against the NBA for doing this would read something other than the sports section of a newspaper or website they would realize that many jobs in the public and private sector have something called eligibility requirements that they implement because they believe it is in the best interest of their company’s success and or their consumers.  I must credit Jemele Hill, who on a later episode of First and Ten, did allude to private sector rights.

Look, I don’t blame high school athletes for wanting to play out of high school, if I had Lebron James, Koby Bryant’s, or even Kwame Brown’s ability, I think I would have made the same decision.  I firmly believe that college athletes, in huge revenue generating sports such as football and basketball should be getting paid, but the unfairness of the college game does not negate the rights of the NBA to implement objective rules that it feels are in its best interest.

It is curious that the player’s union would be interested in repealing this rule as it could adversely affect older players and take jobs away from them.  Personally I like the rule and if college players could make money, I’d like to see the rule bumped up to two years.  This would eliminate the one and done mentality and help these young men really get the most out of the college game, better prepare them for the NBA, and have them ready to contribute right away.  It would benefit the college and pro-game.  Jordan, Bird, Magic, all played at least two years in college.  I think the players and the media can survive if today’s greats do the same.

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