NBA vs. Congress: Mandatory Minimum Age Debate

Prashant ShuklaContributor IJuly 21, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 19:  National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern stands after testifying about steroid use in professional sports before the House Committee on Government Reform on Capitol Hill May 19, 2005 in Washington, DC. Congress members questioned Stern and other witnesses about the NBA's steroid testing program and were critical of its efficacy.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4342058

"However, my concern is that the players who must abide by this rule are harmed by the league's pursuit of these business interests," the congressman wrote, adding that the "age discrimination" prevents players from supporting their families.

What I really don't understand from the article (linked above) and the excerpt above is how the Congressman has any basis to question the NBA on what seems like a legitimate hiring practice.

Businesses contain minimum ages for positions all the time, or do so indirectly by requiring college or advanced degrees. Congress has a minimum age for senators and legislators because it is in the best interest of the Congress to have competent, educated, and experience people making laws.

If the NBA thinks it will benefit from having only older, more mature young men allowed into their business, I really don't see the ground that Congress is standing on here to have an investigation/hearing. Both private entities and government entities have minimum age requirements, so it seems like they are singling out the NBA unfairly on this one.

It isn't like they are being unreasonable and making kids wait for years and years to be able to enter the NBA. All they want is a one-year waiting period to make sure boys enter the NBA with a mature backing.

Additionally, a lot of young men who do enter the NBA often get caught up in the glamor and riches and waste a lot of money while making bad decisions. The NBA wants players to transition from high school to the NBA through college or a year somewhere else, so that they learn how to better manage themselves once they get all the fame and fortune.

I would think that Congress would appreciate the fact that the NBA is promoting more prudent behavior from young, often minority, and potentially very influential men. Even if they are only doing it because it will help their revenues and profits, the seemingly additional social benefits make this a win-win.

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