Sports Law Blog
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Friday, January 16, 2004

Freddy Adu and Child Labor Laws: In case you are curious (as I was), there apparently will be no problems with child labor laws for Major League Soccer and Freddy Adu, who was taken with the first-overall pick in today's MLS draft. The issue, surprisingly, has not been addressed in any stories about Adu, which may reflect the lack of interest either in the topic or in soccer generally. The Washington Post's Jason La Canfora did write about the issue in this chat session (scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page). In addition, not everyone is convinced of the legality, though I am sure the issue was firmly resolved before the draft and contract signing. If anyone has come across any better articles on the matter, I would be very interested in seeing them.

Of course, this does not deal with the issue of whether a 14-year old should be playing professional sports, despite its legality. How young is too young in the world of professional sports? With the success of Lebron James, it seems that high schoolers entering directly into the NBA draft will be something that fans will have to live with for the years to come. As for players still of high school age, much will depend on the success or failure of Adu. He has the benefits of playing soccer, meaning that the spotlight will not shine as much on him. However, people will be watching to see how someone who cannot drive or watch an R-rated movie and in 7 years away from drinking handles the life of a sports star. As anyone has been 14 knows, that age brings with it incredible difficulties and so Adu must be strong mentally and emotionally in order to succeed.


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