Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NBA age limit on the back burner

Maybe more so than any other topic, age limits in the NBA and NFL have been a focal point on this blog.  Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated reports that the current limit - 19 years old, plus (for U.S. players) one year removed from high school - is on the back burner in discussions between the NBA and the players.  Zach also cites the research of several of us.  Here is an excerpt:
The rule requiring American players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school before entering the NBA draft was once among the league’s hottest-button issues. The age limit, collectively bargained in 2005, has resulted in prominent one-and-done players such as Kevin Durant and John Wall spending a season as hyped-up college stars, building a brand and then entering the NBA as household names.

It’s not such a hot-button issue anymore, in part because the league decided years ago to stop talking about “maturity” and amateurism and the alleged “ethical issues” of 18-year-olds earning millions to play basketball. League and team officials talk now of the age limit as good business, a rule that makes players famous before they enter the league, gooses interest in the draft and spares teams the expense of paying scouts to attend high school games where NBA candidates destroy inferior competition.

That’s smart, because it’s hard to find one shred of evidence that the age limit helps the affected players have better pro careers. It has been seven years since Michael McCann, a law professor and contributor, found that players who came straight from high school fared better — in terms of on-court contributions and off-court “behavior” — than players who attended college for any length.’s Tom Haberstroh confirmed the on-court part of McCann’s findings last week, and Ryan Rodenberg, a professor in the Sports Management department at Florida State, is working on an extended study for publication that he says will prove the same thing: that 18-year-olds who entered the draft have outperformed the average NBA player, and that the age limit simply keeps such players from earning money for another year.
 To read the rest, click here.