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Monday, July 20, 2009
Congressman Steve Cohen's Letter to NBA President Joel Litvin

Last month, I blogged about U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen requesting that NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter eliminate the NBA's age limit, which requires that a player be 19 years old plus one year removed from high school in order to be eligible for the NBA Draft (the rule was negotiated in 2005; previously, players could join the NBA right after finishing high school). The NBA and NBPA will be negotiating a new CBA in the near future and the age limit will likely be a source of tension between the two bargaining units.

This afternoon, Congressman Cohen sent a letter to NBA President Joel Litvin expressing his concern that players are harmed by the rule. The Congressman also requested that he meet with Litvin and Commissioner David Stern. Here's an excerpt from the AP Story:

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In a letter sent to Litvin Monday, Cohen maintained that players should have the "economic freedom'' to make their own decisions. He said he understood that the policy may help the league in its scouting and hiring decisions.

"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.

The policy increases the chance that such players will be injured before getting the chance to play in the NBA, he added.

"I am concerned that the careers of young men who possess all the skills necessary to succeed in the NBA,'' Cohen wrote, "may be sacrificed in favor of the bottom lines of the teams on which they hope to play.''

Cohen, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, asked for a meeting with Litvin and Commissioner David Stern. Cohen has said that that he'd consider both hearings and legislation if the requirement remains.

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I'm honored that Congressman Cohen would cite my law review article Illegal Defense: The Irrational Economics of Banning High School Players from the NBA Draft in his letter to Litvin. It will be interesting to see what happens. In my essay on Judge Sotomayor I discuss a possible legal challenge to the NBA's age limit.


Great to follow these different people lobbying for your side. I hope that they do away with this requirement soon.
Congrats on the cite to your article.

Blogger Edwin -- 7/20/2009 7:03 PM  

Great job!

Anonymous ChikaBebe -- 7/21/2009 5:52 AM  

NBA Pres. Litvin wrote that "many employers require job candidates to have post-high school experience...Given that, we do not understand your objection" to the rule, Litvin wrote.

The objection is very simple, and it is very understandable. While a single employer can certainly require job candidates to have post-high school experience, multiple employers cannot agree to implement such a requirement.

Because the union agreed to it, there is only one relevant issue (which the letters don't address), and that is whether the draft age requirement primarily affects the interests of people outside the collective bargaining relationship. If the answer is yes, it's very difficult to justify such a restraint on trade as being reasonable. The fact that it's "good for the teams" or "makes good business sense" is completely irrelevant -- such is the case with any agreement to restrain trade. It would also make very good business sense for all of the law firms in a metropolitan area to agree that they will only hire lawyers with a minimum of 1 yr. experience -- but so what?

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 7/21/2009 7:35 AM  

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