As the shocking! notion that some college basketball players have secretly been paid to play the game continues to percolate throughout the national consciousness, an NBA coach raises an important point about basketballs’ one-and-done rule. That same reasoning potentially applies to the NFL’s three-and-done rule.
Via Deadspin.com, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy suggests that the rule artificially barring high school basketball players from the NBA for one year contains an inherent racial bias.
“I think a lot of it was racist, quite honestly,” Van Gundy said regarding the NBA’s one-and-done rule. “And the reason I’m going to say that is, I’ve never heard anybody go up in arms about, ‘Oh my God, they’re letting these kids go out and play minor-league baseball’ or, ‘They’re letting these kids come out and play minor-league hockey.’ They’re not making big money, and they’re white kids primarily, and nobody has a problem. But all of a sudden, you’ve got a black kid who wants to come out of high school and make millions — that’s a bad decision? But bypassing college to go play for $800 a month in minor-league baseball – that’s a fine decision? What the hell is going on?”
The NFL has the same kind of rule, preventing players from entering the draft for at least three years after the graduation of their high-school classes. While the NFL’s rule has a lot more to do with protecting the free farm system known as college football, it’s hard not to notice that Major League Baseball and the NHL have no qualms about letting kids go straight to the professional level.
Of course, the absence of a professional football league that welcomes players straight out of high school makes it easier for the NFL to give players a hard nudge toward college football. If an alternative pro league were to emerge that competes not with the NFL for players but with the NCAA, the NFL may have to revisit its stance.
Regardless of whether the NFL’s three-year restriction has, in comparison to baseball and hockey, any type of racial component, it’s (crusade alert) an unfair rule that prevents NFL teams and would-be NFL players from exercising maximum freedom when it comes to filling up rosters.
Yes, if the NFL were to embrace players less than three years removed from high school, many would learn the hard way that they misjudged their marketability. That possibility shouldn’t rob them of their ability to take that chance. Our inalienable rights include the right to make bad decisions. If an NFL team wants to make what could be a bad decision when drafting a high-school player, or if a high-school player wants to make a bad decision to bypass college football entirely for a pro career that never gets off the ground, there should be no arbitrary restriction to taking those risks.