Look in todays classified ads. Nearly every job lists qualifications. Most say a bachelors degree is necessary while some employers require masters degrees. The very basic jobs may say that they require an AA degree. Typically that's two years of college. Or taking an 18 year old high school graduate to the 20 year minimum that the NBA is proposing. Some employers will say".. or the equivelant" That could leave the door open for any players from overseas who have different educational systems than the USA and have played in professional leagues for a number of years. Their life experiences may have shown that they are able to handle the rigors of professional sports.
A lawyer must attend law school; a doctor-med school; most Fortune 500 busineses require an MBA; even school teachers must be credentialed. Someone might be the best basketball coach in the world but it is not their 'right' to be hired by a school district without the school's required qualifications. While some might debate the reasoning, it certainly is not litigated.
During a discussion on the proposed 20 year old age limit in the NBA draft, a response on the SoCalHoops Message Board , kind if, summed things up: "All this thinking is what is wrong with basketball. Agents, greed, bad advice, etc... There are two schools of thought here. Do I play basketball solely to get paid? Or, am I trying to become the best basketball player that I can be? Read the rest of his comments here...
College is not only about developing the skills required for a profession. Other life lessons learned are just as important. Random college seniors have said,
- They have to learn how to manage their time and money, and take responsibility for their own actions
- By senior year you realize that life is more than just Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights
- I have learned to have more control over myself and my emotions. I've learned that I can't control what other people do, but I can control how I let it affect me. By doing this, it makes the quality of life better, because you are not constantly worried about what other people are thinking or saying".
Much more can be found in an essay What I Really Learned in College.
Some will argue that other sports do not restrict entrance based on age. That doesn't make it right. I personally know of some baseball players, who passed on college scholarships when drafted out of high school that squandered their meager signing bonus, only to be cut loose shortly thereafter. That scholarship opportunity no longer existed and once in the "cycle of life" with bills and responsibiities, going back to school is difficult. So they find whatever work they can. With some college training other doors may have opened.
Others will argue that because basketball is primarily a minority sport, the restriction effects one race more than others. If that is the case, then all the rules of the game affect one race more than another. Every minority that is denied early entry saves another veteran minority from being released too soon. It works at both ends.
Bottom line is every for KG, Kobe, Jermain O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Tracy McGrady or LeBron there is a Korleone Young, James Lang, Taj McDavid, Ellis Richardson, DeAngelo Collins, Leon Smith or a Donnell Harvey. Worse yet are those who never developed enough to be even mentioned in the latter category. Those who, as youth players, put all of their eggs in the proverbial "basketball basket" by neglecting their academic pursuits. The number of those who were not even good enough to declare increases exponentially and can be found across the playground of America, mumbling "woulda, coulda, shoulda...?"