Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buzz Bissinger goes off on the one-and-done rule

You know who Buzz Bissinger is, right?

The author of Friday Night Lights. The guy who ripped blogs and bloggers, specifically Deadspin's Will Leitch, on Costas Now.

Bissinger was back in the news today as he wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times critiquing the NBA's 19 year old age limit. Bissinger's argument is, well, spot on. (Did you expect anything less?)

Essentially, the gist of the article is that there is no statistical evidence that says kids coming out of high school are any less likely to succeed in the NBA than a player that went through four years of college. And the best part about it - he uses cold, hard facts, not just opinion.


  • 21 high schoolers were drafted between 1975-2001. The number of kids that didn't reach the league was equal to the number that became superstars (four - Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady).
  • Between 2002-2005, of the 26 high schoolers picked, 20 are still in the NBA and three (Amare Stoudamire, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James) became stars.
  • Kids coming out of high school were responsible for 4.8% of the last 84 NBA arrests (they make up 8.3% of the league). More than half of those 84 came from four year college kids.
  • Between 1996-2006, players drafted as high schoolers had better rookie seasons efficiency-wise than those taken after 3-4 years in school.
Seriously, read the article.

The facts are there.

But despite the arguments, despite the logic, and despite the facts provided, this rule will never change.

There is too much money on the line.

That's why it was established in the first place. It wasn't to keep NBA front office types and agents out of high school gyms (because clearly that didn't happen). It wasn't to try and get these kids to become educated, because after the first semester one-and-done's don't face any ramifications for not going to class.

It was done for the money. The NCAA gets to have the stars fill seats, sell jerseys, and draw TV ratings while NBA execs get to see them play one year of major college basketball. When you are investing millions in a teenager, it is a bit more comforting to see him play on a national stage for 30-some odd games than to throw that much money at a recent high school graduate.

Personally, I go back and forth on the issue. Allowing kids to go one-and-done is terrible for the climate of college basketball; it makes it nearly impossible to keep the recruiting process and educational procedures clean.

That said, ideally I would like to believe that making these kids attend college is a good thing. Maybe they like the idea of getting an education. Maybe they end up realizing that going pro out of high school would have been a mistake and work their tails off to become an NBA player. And maybe they end up dogging it through a year at college, and fizzle out in the NBA after their rookie contract.

Whatever it is, forcing kids to go to school for just one year doesn't make any sense. While forcing them to go for two or three years is not a bad idea, I have trouble believing that it is fair to force an 18 year old, an adult in our society that is allowed to go to war, to put off his earning potential for a year.

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