- NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently proposed to lower the age at which a player can be drafted from 19 to 18 – right out of high school. As a thought exercise, we ask: Why stop there? What if NBA clubs, like European clubs, took control of their talent pipeline down through age 16 or 14 when players in the U.S. begin to get scouted, monetized and developed by a growing set of entities, from upstarts like Overtime Elite to academies like IMG to the unregulated club teams that long have been the subject of investigations? How would such a scenario impact the array of stakeholders from leagues to high school sports to the athletes themselves?
We discussed this topic at our Sept. 20 Future of Sports conversation. Speakers included:
- Pau Gasol, a six-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion who began his professional career when he was recruited at 16 by the Junior Team of FC Barcelona in Spain. He is now president of the Gasol Foundation, which is working to eradicate childhood obesity, and a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. He is also a board member of Overtime Elite, a digital media company that signs high school-age players to professional contracts.
- Jesse Washington, journalist at ESPN’s Andscape, author of “I Came as a Shadow.” He is the father of two children who played elite AAU basketball.
- Colleen Maguire, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director
- Kendall Baker, Axios sports editor
- Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director (moderator)
Future of Sports is a conversation series, hosted by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, that helps stakeholders think through key questions shaping the future of our games, the sports industry and its impact on society. Past events examined the future of football, a series on college athlete pay including the government’s role and the future of name, image and likeness rights, sports betting, athlete activism, coaching, the U.S. Olympic movement, women’s pro sports, children’s rights in sports, and the future of sports in the climate crisis. Contact Sports & Society Program Editorial Director Jon Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or inquiries.
Thank you to Axios Sports for its support as media partner of the Future of Sports series.