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Thursday, August 09, 2012
The Curious Dynamic of Players' Associations Bargaining Eligibility Rules on Behalf of Prospective Players

I had the honor of speaking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference earlier today in Kansas City. It was a great experience to speak to so many judges and top appellate attorneys, including Ted Olson and Paul Clement, both of whom played major roles in last year's NFL and NBA lockouts. I was on a panel with Gary Roberts, Bob Wallace and Judge Mary Vasaly. I have posted my remarks on SSRN. They will be converted to a law review submission later. I address whether players' associations should be able to bargain eligibility rules (i.e,. the NBA, WNBA and NFL age limits) on behalf of prospective players. Here's an excerpt:

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Clearly commissioners, leagues and their teams want these rules, for reasons that can be debated. I have argued for more than 10 years that 18-year-old players should have the choice to turn pro and take the benefits and risks that go along with it. I also have conducted my own empirical research -- both for on-court performance and for off-court issues, such as arrest propensity as correlated to number of years spent in college -- and read the research of others on the NBA's age restriction. The data is clear: the rule and the numbers behind it tell contradictory stories.

But that's not new, nor is it necessarily relevant to a legal discussion, at least not yet. And instead of looking at age limits from a view directed at David Stern or Roger Goodell or various league officials and lawyers, I'd rather look at the players associations that have approved these rules as part of collective bargaining agreements. How often are Billy Hunter, the NBA players' executive director, or De Smith, the NFLPA's executive director, criticized for age restrictions? Not often, if ever. But maybe they should.

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Hope you have a chance to check out what I said.


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