x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Scrap basketball age limit call

A congressman wants the NBA to repeal their requirement that players be at least 19 years old and a year out of high school before entering the league.

WASHINGTON // A congressman wants the NBA to repeal their requirement that players be at least 19 years old and a year out of high school before entering the league, calling the restriction unfair. Representative Steve Cohen sent identical letters to the NBA commissioner David Stern and union leader Billy Hunter, asking that they remove the requirement in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Cohen, a member of the House of Representatives judiciary committee, on Wednesday called the requirement "an unfair restriction on the rights of these young men to pursue their intended career". In an e-mail, NBA's spokesman Tim Frank said: "We are looking forward to receiving, reviewing and responding to the congressman's letter, as we always do." The players' union did not respond to requests for comment.

Stern has said he would not mind if the new agreement pushed the minimum age to 20 - although he was happy the way the rule was working at the moment. The agreement runs until 2011. "We anticipate that the age limitation issue will be front and centre during collective bargaining negotiations and we look forward to the opportunity to revisit the change to the rule that was made in 2005," the players' association spokesman Dan Wasserman said.

In an interview, Cohen said that he would consider hearings and legislation if the requirement remained. "I don't think it makes any sense. It didn't hurt Al Kaline to go straight to the Detroit Tigers," he said, referring to the slugger who broke into Major League Baseball at the age of 18 in 1953. Cohen noted that athletes in sports such as baseball, tennis and golf, do not face such a restriction.

* AP