PolySciFi Blog

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


NBA Age LImit

After seeing this on PTI yet again, I felt compelled to add my two bits.

David Stern has floated the idea of setting a minimum age for playing in the NBA of20 which would exclude high school players. Jermaine O'Neal has suggested the reason for this is racism.

That's just stupid on two counts.

First while the proposed rule change would disproportionately affect blacks, that doesn't make the rule racist. Lots of rules/laws affect the races differently when examined statistically- we just have different distributions. If we added a tax to dairy products, would this be racist? Whites consume way more dairy than other races (partially due to a lower incidence of lactose intolerance and partially for cultural reasons). Further, the vast majority of NBA players are black. Any NBA rule change will of course impact more blacks than other races. If players were fined for every technical and flagrant foul, would this be racist? Or would it be a way to improve civility on the court?

Second, it serves to distract from an otherwise good libertarian point (for instance consider the preceding digression). Why should we stop an employer and an employee from entering into a voluntary contract?

Now don't get me wrong, the NBA can legally do whatever the heck they want to. But I don't think the owners are thinking this through or are not very confident in their own abilities ("save me from myself - I'm can't identify talent").

If I was an owner and I thought that drafting highschoolers tended to lower the quality of the league and tended to damage the team that drafted the highschooler, I would want the highschoolers in the draft. Screw it. Allow the drafting of middle schoolers. Cause I figure I'm a smarter owner than the other owners (otherwise why else am I in the business?) and I'll either a) stop my team from drafting highschoolers due to their high variance of performance or b) make certain my team had the best scouts. In either case, the relative performance of my team would improve and I would increase the value of my franchise.

Now I understand why Stern who's not an owner and whose job is to promote the league which includes maintaining the quaility of play has floated the idea. But I believe the owners get to vote on any agreement, and it's in their own selfish interests to vote against an age limit.

Oddly enough, the only party (other than Stern) whose selfish interest is installing an age limit are the players who will increase their own value (and thus pay) by contracting the labor pool (at least temporarily). So by O'Neal's own logic, O'Neal must be racist as not having an age limit limit will take money out of the pockets of current NBA players who are disproportionately black. ;)

Mike makes the case for Stern's involvement in this post.


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