Friday, June 05, 2009

RFK Action Front Person of the Week: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

A congressman has written a letter to the National Basketball Association 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.”

“It’s 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 it’s a restraint on a person’s freedoms and liberties.”

Letter from Representative Steve Cohen to N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern (pdf)

[Full article here.]

Rep. Cohen is correct. The stars of the NBA playoffs -- Kobe, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum -- all came straight out of high school into the NBA. Forcing those players -- who have the talent to play in the NBA -- to play in Europe or at Duke for a year is an unfair restraint of trade, it's collusion with the feudal monopoly of the NCAA, and deprives these young men of millions of dollars in potential earnings. Basically, David Stern and the NBA are trying to shift the burden of risk -- from the multi-billion dollar NBA onto the backs of 18 year old (mostly poor black) young men. Besides, the kids who go directly from high school to the NBA are the most exciting players in the league -- why you would want them to risk injury or bad coaching by sending them off to Europe, college or sitting out for a year? why not just develop a mandatory life skills program within the NBA to work with these kids when they enter the NBA?

In response to Rep. Cohen's letter, David Stern said, " This is a business decision by the NBA..." Yeah so was slavery dude.

For stepping up and doing the right thing, Rep. Cohen is hereby named the RFK Action Front person of the week! Now if only he could break up the NCAA cartel which is depriving young men (and some young women too) of millions of dollars in rightful earnings.

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