Potential Olympic basketball age limit poses issues

There’s no denying that Team USA dominates when it comes to basketball. This year the men’s team earned its third consecutive gold medal, while the women’s team hasn’t lost an Olympic game since 1992.

Perhaps because of this unprecedented dominance, the idea of a 23-year-old age limit was proposed for Olympic basketball.

Currently the USA teams have key players on both the men and women’s teams that carry on through multiple Olympics. Most often the older veteran players captain the teams with their experience.

However, an age limit would eliminate that, which means no more LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant team ups. It would also mean no more Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Sue Bird power match-ups either.

At first the proposal appears to be detrimental to the Team USA basketball program, yet in reality, it really isn’t. Yes, the younger players would be jittery and have less basketball IQ than the 2012 London teams did. But think about it on a global scale.

It is true that the worldwide Olympics basketball competition has improved, mostly thanks to the expansion of the NBA and WNBA. The majority—if not all—of the top players on other teams are also playing in the American Leagues.

What does this have to do with the age limit? Those top players from other countries are certainly not under the age of 23.

In other words, the age limit would mean no Tony Parker, no Manu Ginobli, no Pau or Marc Gasol, no Luol Deng, well you get the point.

Image from basketballinengland.com

And the same goes for the women’s side.

USA has a fairly competitive college basketball scene that could easily feed players to the Olympic team each year, but other countries aren’t so lucky. This age limit would most likely hurt Team USA’s competition rather than even out the playing field by hurting Team USA.

Reports have said that FIBA denied the age limit rumors, for the most part, saying it’s highly unlikely for it to be instilled in the Rio 2016 games.

Personally, I’m strongly against age limits of any sort in any Olympic sport. I believe the best of the best should be competing.

All politics and money aside, an age is simply a number—it’s talent that should define an athlete.


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