jermaine o'neal caused a little hulabaloo yesterday when he said that enacting a minimum age requirement for the nba (like the nfl does) is motivated by racism.
here's the thing about athletes when they talk about this stuff. they have insider access to what they're talking about, but good lord, they just don't know how to articulate their thoughts. ironically, if the age limit was in place, maybe they o'neal might have learned how to be a little more eloquent and thoughtful in his quotes.
anyways, i'm not sure that david stern and the nba owners are racist. i actually really don't think that they are, and actually, in terms of structural features (coaches, front office positions, relative pay), they're actually the least racist of all of the big 4 league sports. what i think jermaine o'neal should have said is that instituting a minimum age will result in racism. he's right to say that the people that this rule will affect the most are black people, and as we all know, not acknowledging race or the racial consequences of your actions, is a little bit racist.
i don't know where i really fall on this matter. i see the value of enacting the age limit to create a better product. however, at the same time, o'neal used the voting and drafting analogy. but instead of voting he said that if 18 year olds are old enough to die for their country, then they should be old enough to make millions of dollars in the nba. again, like i said, i wish that he had put in a little more thought before he issued this statement. at the same time, it's true. what the nfl does with its age limit and what the nba wants to do with its age limit is basically deny someone the right to work for no good reason. if a team wants to hire an 18 year old to do its job, then it should be able to. child labor laws only should apply to children.
anyways, i spent a good deal of time on this because i imagine that most sportswriters will respond to this by saying that the age limit has nothing to do with race. i want to say, it may not be motivated by racist attitudes, but there certainly almost is a relationship to race.