Thursday, January 14, 2010

The NBA Age Rule Doesn't Really Work

You can find lots of things here to agree with:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan entered some of the most contentious debates in college sports on Thursday when, in a speech at the N.C.A.A. convention, he called for stricter consequences for college teams that do not graduate their athletes and said the N.B.A.’s age-minimum policy sets up young athletes for failure.

“Why do we allow the N.C.A.A, why do we allow universities, why do we allow sports to be tainted when the vast majority of coaches and athletic directors are striving to instill the right values?” said Duncan, who was a co-captain of his Harvard basketball team and played in an Australian professional league from 1987 until 1991.

He said his time as a college athlete was one of the most valuable periods of his life, but feared the N.B.A.’s age rule, which requires that a player be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school before entering the league, does a disservice to athletes.

“They are simply passing through your institutions on their way to something else,” he told the audience of university presidents, athletic officials and N.C.A.A. officials. “Some of them make it, some of them wash out very, very quickly.”

In remarks after his speech, Duncan spoke in even franker terms, calling the N.B.A. rule a “farce” and “intellectually dishonest.”

Well, a prime example of this would be Gilbert Arenas, who was drafted when he was (about?) 19 years of age. He's just one example, of course, but here's my point--nothing Duncan is saying would have prevented a Gilbert Arenas from being too immature to join the NBA at 23 as opposed to 19. Nothing establishes "maturity" except for the conduct of the person in question. There are, no doubt, 19 and 20 year-olds who could do well in the NBA, but that would be based on their individual character. One man's screw up is another man's thankfulness for being in the NBA.

Really, it does come down to an intangible. Is this young man mature enough to handle it? If so, let him play. If not, do NOT let him play.

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