Legality of Age Restrictions in the NBA and NFL

Academic Article


  • This essay examines age eligibility rules in the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), offers analysis of related antitrust and labor law issues, and shares perspective on underlying policies. As a matter of background, the NFL and the NBA are the only major sports organizations that prohibit players from entrance until a prescribed period after high school graduation. Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, NASCAR, professional tennis, professional golf, and professional boxing have no such rules. Individuals can also partake in professional acting, theater, music, and other entertainment professions without satisfying a period after high school graduation. The same is true of those who enlist in the U.S. armed forces and in various occupations that require maturity and discipline. Such an employment landscape raises inquiry as to why NFL and NBA teams, unlike so many other employers, would agree to boycott any candidate, regardless of talent or skill, until a prescribed period after high school graduation. This inquiry enjoys heightened interest when considering that NFL and NBA teams are incomparable employers, as players may not play in other leagues for similar compensation.
  • Authors

  • McCann, Michael
  • Rosen, Joseph S
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2006
  • Published In


  • NBA
  • NFL
  • Professional Athletes
  • Professional Sports
  • age requirements
  • age restrictions
  • Start Page

  • 731
  • End Page

  • 768
  • Volume

  • 56