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10-15-2009 @ 12:57:21
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A congressman has written a letter to the and the players union asking them to repeal the rule governing the minimum age of players.
Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, wrote that the four-year-old rule, which requires that players be 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduation, is of deep concern.
Its a vestige of slavery, Cohen said Wednesday in a phone interview, noting that most of the players affected by the rule are African-American. Not like the slavery of 150 years ago, but its a restraint on a persons freedoms and liberties.
Cohen said he was dismayed to hear that N.B.A. Commissioner was hoping to extend the age limit to 20. He added that his office was in the process of looking into the legalities of the limit and that a hearing and legislation were possible. He said the issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the Houses Judiciary Committee.
Hopefully, theyll just do the right thing, he said.
Cohen said that one of his primary arguments against the rule, which is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and union, was that soldiers can fight for their country at age 18 but not play in the N.B.A. He also said noted that predominantly white sports like hockey, baseball and golf lack similar restrictions.
Theres something wrong with keeping kids, who are more likely to be African-American than not, from playing professional basketball and football when they can help their families and communities immediately, Cohen said. Theyre forced to go to school when they have no desire or interest in going to school.
The N.B.A. spokesman Mike Bass said the league was looking forward to receiving and responding to the congressmans letter. The players union spokesman Dan Wasserman said he expected the age issue to be front and center when the collective bargaining agreement, which expires in 2011, is renegotiated. Wasserman added that the union looked forward to the opportunity to revisit the change to the rule that was made in 2005.
Cohen said he began researching the issue in April and chose to write the letter now to use the spotlight of the N.B.A. finals for exposure. Four of the biggest stars in the finals , Andrew Bynum, and Rashard Lewis skipped college before the rule changed. (The current rule essentially forces players to attend college for a year.)
I dont think its fair, Lewis said, ticking off the names of the players in the finals. He added: The M.V.P. of the league, , came out of high school. won a championship last year. There are a handful of guys who are the face of the game who came out of high school. So I think you should continue to let certain guys do it, make that jump.
Part of the reason that Cohen has raised the issue is that the University of Memphis, which is in his district, has had, in Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, so-called one-and-done players in each of the last two years. Rose and Evans, each played one season before declaring his intention to turn pro.
I think the odds of either of them coming back and getting a degree is probably less likely than the winning the N.B.A. title next year, Cohen said, referring to Memphiss hapless N.B.A. franchise.
Memphis is currently in the throes of a scandal in which the is alleging that a Memphis player, presumed to be Rose, had a standardized test taken for him.
Cohen said that the controversy and the allegations that the former Southern California star O. J. Mayo took money and gifts illegally while in college would not have happened if this rule was not in place.
He added that the former star Thaddeus Young, who is from his district, was also affected by the rule.
He could have gone straight to the pros, Cohen said. I
dont think hes going to be an engineer. Its just kind of
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10-15-2009 @ 12:57:21