The NFL says you need to be a certin age to be drafted. Does it say how old you have to be to sign as a free agent? (if you said that in your post I missed it.) Because I dont think they stop you from being signed as a free agent. You cant make as much money starting out as a undrafted free agent but I think you can play. Mo and Fat Mike, wanted the money without proving themselves, guarenteed money by being drafted in the first round etc. If they were an UFA, they would have to actually produce to get paid.
Was Maurice Clarett right?
There was a post that devolved into a discussion of the of NFL Draft eligibility rules about a week ago. As I was the person who was largely responsible, I decided to examine Maurice Clarett's situation more closely. Enjoy.
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NFL eligibility rules, like those of the NCAA, can be a contentious issue. This is likely because, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with a rule, the rules are somewhat arbitrary. Since we’re discussing Maurice Clarett here, I’m going to discuss the NFL’s policy that players must be three years removed from high school graduation in order to enter the NFL draft—in other words, they must have completed their Redshirt Sophomore or true Junior season in college football. Clarett challenged that rule in federal court in 2004, where he first was successful in the Southern District—whose ruling was then reversed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
I want to emphasize that I am not a lawyer, and while the lawyers out there are free to destroy my argument and pick apart my almost certainly incorrect usage of legal terminology, that doesn’t necessarily mean my viewpoint is without validity. As a reference for the legal issues, I’ve used a summary of the case, which is available at the bottom of the page.
This is a topic I feel very strongly about. To me, it’s appalling that an adult who is highly qualified for a job is prevented from pursuing that job simply based on his age. Make no mistake; waiting three years after high school is essentially another way of requiring that NFL players be 20-21 years old on draft day. Of course, for me to be upset in this case, I must assume that Clarett and Mike Williams would have been drafted (or at least signed as an undrafted free agent) by an NFL team in that draft. Both were drafted the next year, so I think it’s safe to assume they would have been drafted the season in question.
My argument isn't about what’s best for the fans, or even for the players, it’s about what should or shouldn’t be legal. I would love every college player to stay in school for four seasons. I primarily follow the college game, and the game’s great players are a significant part of why the college game is, to me, the best sport in the world. However, is it acceptable for the government to allow a private entity to not allow an adult to work in a profession he is clearly capable of pursuing? I’m not saying the NFL had to draft Clarett and give him a huge signing bonus, but they essentially prevented him from even applying for a job, despite having met all non age-related qualifications. I’m going to examine if my argument is valid, and whether it’s reasonable to disagree with the court decision the allowed the NFL to deny Clarett entrance into the draft.
Clarett’s lawyers argued that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement violated various anti-trust acts by denying eligibility for employment to players “who had not first exhausted all college football eligibility, graduated from college, or been out of high school for five football seasons. Clubs were further barred from drafting any person who either did not attend college, or attended college but did not play football, unless that person had been out of high school for four football seasons.” The NFL Commissioner was authorized to admit players via “Special Eligibility,” provided three years of college football had elapsed—these are early entrants to the draft.
The initial case in the Southern District essentially ruled that the Clarett had anti-trust standing; holding that the “’inability to compete in the market’ for NFL players' services is sufficient injury for antitrust purposes.” The Southern District also found that the NFL’s eligibility rules were “blatantly anticompetitive” in ruling in Clarett’s favor. The NFL argued that younger players were less emotionally and physically mature, and therefore more likely to fail at the NFL level. They further argued that younger athletes may attempt to rush their body’s maturation by taking steroids, etc. These are logical arguments that I’d expect the NFL to make here.
Obviously, the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Appeals Court disagreed with the lower court's ruling. Their discussion opens by stating, “It has long been recognized that in order to accommodate the collective bargaining process, certain concerted activity among and between labor and employers must be held to be beyond the reach of the antitrust laws.” This allows unions and employers to negotiate work rules together in good faith—the so-called anti-trust exemption. This is called a “non-statutory exemption,” which is inferred "from federal labor statutes, which set forth a national labor policy favoring free and private collective bargaining; which require good-faith bargaining over wages, hours, and working conditions; and which delegate related rulemaking and interpretive authority to the National Labor Relations Board."
The Appeals Court systematically struck down each of Clarett’s arguments based on past court rulings and federal labor law. According to federal labor law, rules for initial eligibility are required in the collective bargaining process, and may make eligibility more difficult for outside parties, which can be used by unions to protect their workers. Unlike the Southern District, the Appeals Court granted the NFL a non-statutory exemption and allowed them to deny Clarett’s entry into the draft.
The discussion above is what happened during the process. Clearly, assuming that the appointed members of the federal court system are accomplished jurists—which is likely the case—intelligent people can disagree here. I found it interesting that age was not mentioned once in the case summary. When Clarett initially challenged the NFL, I thought it would be a simple case that would immediately fall in Clarett’s favor. He was an adult, and it’s illegal to deny someone a job due to age, which I contend is a clear consequence of the time removed from high school eligibility rules. I was wrong. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states on its website that only workers over the age of forty are protected by age discrimination provisions of federal employment law. That is clearly why age wasn’t mentioned, however, I’m surprised that was not challenged, especially due to the perishable nature of NFL level football ability.
I’m not going to delve too deeply into the morality issue in this diary. I obviously fall on the side of allowing an adult to apply for a job he is qualified for, but many others on the board do not in the case of pro football. I also feel it would have been right for the NFL to allow Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett in under some sort of special exemption. They did win the initial case, and were forced to spend a year in limbo waiting to be drafted—which may have contributed to Clarett’s eventual problems. Had he been able to remain in the very structured environment of organized football, those problems may have been mitigated or never appeared.
Feel free to debate below, but apparently, Maurice Clarett, and I, was wrong based on federal law. Hopefully it was an interesting read.
As I understand it, in order to play in the NFL, you need to be a member of the NFLPA...just like to work at GM, you need to be in the UAW...and it is the union that is keeping underage players from playing.
But I am no expert.
It is a "closed shop." You have to be a member of the Union to play in the NFL. The only time non-union players play in the NFL is when the collective bargaining agreement is not in place or when the union dissolves as a strategic move that's built into the CBA (I believe this is what happened in 1987).
So would some Freshman have a legitimate argument in 2011 if the CBA expires? Any idea?
When I read this comment, I went "oooh" out loud, as in "oh, INTERESTING- Let's think about it!" I think that Freshman might have a damn strong argument if the CBA wasn't in place. The thing is, though, I bet the CBA has a clause in it that when it "expires," certain provisions are still in place. Now, assuming it does have such a provision in it, who's to say that type of contract is legal? As in, "this is our contract. . . once it expires, it expires, except these other provisions. Those stay." That would seem a little gray from a contract law standpoint. However, on the flip side, if the 1987 lockout/strike is any indication, once the CBA goes away, then anything goes.
Here's the problem, though: If freshman can get their case through fast enough in the meantime, let's say they get hired as replacement players. What happens when a new CBA gets agreed to, which it inevitably will? Does the Union then vote to exclude them? And is THAT legal? (I don't think it is- I think they could get around this, and they would be able to continue playing if they can "cut it" in the eyes of ownership. But what, then, if owners intentionally cut those players as part of an implicit/back room deal with the Union after the new CBA is agreed to?) There would be a lot of moving parts to such a scenario- the CBA expiring, otherwise ineligable players trying to get an injunction to play, the Union reaching an agreement or strategically dissolving and then re-forming. . . in all honesty, without a serious analysis of the current agreement, good intel on the status of negotiations at the time of this hypothetical attempt by the underclassmen, and close scrutiny of case law for sound legal argument and an inkling as to what the court would do, it's hard to say what would happen.
Like Doc Saturday says: "Rooting interest is chaos, always chaos."
It would be a total mess, and the league would take a real PR hit when it couldn't afford one--and the odds of one of the kids ending up with Israeli gangsters to soften the blow is probably pretty small.
I had to +1 you for the Israeli gangsters point. Haha. Oh, and sorry about the misspelling of "ineligible" and my random capitalizations. Dammmit, trying to post quickly.
the NFL rules are immoral.
A union shop should be illegal. It is immoral to force an individual to join a union as condition of employment. This essentially forces the individual to pay "protection money" to organized crime (unions) in order to work.
The NFL should not be allowed to exploit its monopoly status and effectively bar adult individuals from freely seeking employment in professional football for several years.
Both rules violate basic morality and the spirit of our Declaration of Independence which recognizes "inalienable rights" of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Clarett was right.
The NFL doesn't explicitly say you need to be a certain age. You have to be a certain number of years separated from high school. Amobi Okoye was drafted when he was 19 I believe, but was able to do so because he graduated high school when he was like 15 or 16.
In the post, the requirements are spelled out:
"Clarett’s lawyers argued that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement violated various anti-trust acts by denying eligibility for employment to players "who had not first exhausted all college football eligibility, graduated from college, or been out of high school for five football seasons." Clubs were further barred from drafting any person who either did not attend college, or attended college but did not play football, unless that person had been out of high school for four football seasons.” The NFL Commissioner was authorized to admit players via “Special Eligibility,” provided three years of college football had elapsed—these are early entrants to the draft."
You can only be drafted into the NFL before you exhaust collegiate eligibility or are 5 years removed from high school. You can't sign as a FA out of high school. I suppose you might be able to fast-track college and graduate in 2 years, but it seems that would be difficult with the time commitment to football any self-respecting collegiate program requires.
As I understand it, you are making a philisophical argument, not a legal one. Or more to the point, you are arguing that the law of the land should not be the law of the land...
Philisophically, I tend to agree with you. I often believe that unions, while protecting current workers, can harm the larger population. And it is the NFLPA (union) who bargins with the NFL to determine elgibility of players, who are, in essence, workers. This is not a free market.
However, this is still the law of the land. And the law of the land should remain so until such time as it is not what the people want. I don't think that it was the place of the judicial system to repeal this law.
Legally, there is some ambiguity. The provision used by the Appeals Court was "implied" based on past legal decisions, not written law. However, intelligent people disagreed in this case as to whether it is or is not the law of the land.
Philosophically, yes, I think it's wrong to prevent people from even applying for work, especially when they meet the actual skill requirements--to which the NFL agreed when it drafted both Clarett and Williams in the top half of the next draft. My feelings are based on my notion of fairness, which will not meet everyone else's notion.
Even more important is that the NFL is the sole employer for people with Clarett's skill set. If I'm a particularly excellent barista, Starbucks may not hire me based on experience, but I can apply at The Coffee Bean. Clarett had only one shot, and didn't want to spend another season in college--where he may have hurt his stock or been permanently injured.
I didn't read the cases, but I wanted to point out that decisions by courts are indeed "law." The law as developed by courts is called "common law" and it is a key aspect of the American legal system (also the UK's and lots of other places). Law doesn't need to be codified or written in a statute to exist.
Since you said the provision the circuit court relied on was "implied," I'm not sure if that meant it wasn't clear. But now that the Second Circuit has spoken, what they said is the "law" in the Second Circuit until the Second Circuit reverses itself or the Supreme Court does it.
Cosign. The principle of "stare decisis" means, basically, that court-made law is law and is rarely overturned. Of course there are exceptions- hell, the Supreme Court has some pretty ridiculous 180 degree turns over the past 40 years- but generally, they can do that because, well, they're the Supreme Court. Everyone else pretty much has to fall in line, and past decisions are binding. It is "common law" as stated, and it goes back to at least the 1600's in England.
This is why I'm not a lawyer. Thanks for the comments. I understand stare decisis and common law, at least at a basic level, but what I failed to clarify was that it wasn't legislated (which I assume is why the exception is considered "implied"). I expressly stated that I was clearly wrong based on the legal argument.
However, it is odd that a monopoly's union is allowed to create rules that can be expressly used to limit the potential pool of workers--thereby making the services of current players more valuable.
The thing is, common law/court-made law is good law. . . but legislatures can then make a law which trumps it. But. . . they (Congress) are often loathe to do so on a whim. Courts interpret laws and also have common law as well. When there's ambiguity between decades or even centuries of common law and, say, a new law or one that the court hasn't interpreted yet, the court will usually try to find a way to reconcile the two. They are intertwined, but both are "good law." But. . . If the courts have made a law that says "X" and Congress makes a law after that that says "Y" and is in direct opposition to the court's ruling, then Congress's law wins, unless it's unconstitutional.
I think you make an interesting point about the monopoly. The thing is, though, the Union doesn't really get to pick its members- the teams do, by who they sign, etc. It's kind of a niche area of law in a way- a lot of principles that you kind of think you know(even as a law student or young lawyer) are somewhat skewed in the context of this type of thing. It's kind of its own little area. Now, if the clubs and the union were in cahoots and not letting in qualified players, well, then it'd be an interesting issue. Oh wait- that IS the issue here. . . which is why it's interesting.
Sports Law is kind of a messy quagmire- you see it right now with the American Needle case that the US Supreme Court just heard arguments on and will issue a ruling on later this year. (check out the details here: http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=American_Needle_Inc._v._NFL,_e...) It gives you a little peek into just how unique sports law is.
And yes, as you can imagine, I'd give my right you-know-what to be a sports attorney. Believe it or not, those jobs are a tad difficult to come by. But...perhaps I should look into labor law. Hmm. . .
That's why it's so interesting. From an econ standpoint, this is a legal monopoly that should be heavily regulated by the government, at least based on my interpretation of econ theory. Legally, it is a strange world that isn't really defined--probably because very few people that would want to "break-up" the NFL or MLB could demonstrate injury to the point of getting their case heard and because courts do want to promote stability.
Again, thanks for dropping the legal knowledge in here.
Clarett has EVER been right.
or lawyers or teachers or pretty much any job that you need an education for? Honestly what's the difference between a football player who stays in school for 4 years getting his "education" in football 101-401 and then "graduating" and then someone getting a bachelors in engineering.
I honestly think that if they got rid of this rule that there would be a flood of early declarers who wouldn't get drafted.
because doctors and lawyers go to PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION. players required to go to college before becoming draft eligible are going to college and PLAYING football. the entire point of the delay is to allow physical development to avoid injury. not to make the players more knowledgeable in their position/craft.
don't become more knowledgeable in their position/craft? What about technique and PAD LEVEL?
I'm just going to say it that most Sophomores aren't ready for the pros in football and that most juniors aren't either (hell most seniors could use a few more years of development). But to say that there shouldn't be any rules at all is just plain nut-so.
of teaching styles out there, i would be stunned to hear an NFL coach say that they didn't have to break down and build up a WIDE assortment of players and their techniques.
obviously the NFL is pushing the idea of education while at the same time protecting players from being injured. the main issue, however, is not to have players learning more football. if that was the case, NFL teams would successfully argue they are willing to take that chance. the CBA and this policy was put in place for two things: push kids through school and have them at the beginning of their athletic and physical peak when they come to the league.
comparing them to doctors or lawyers is absurd though. the sheer amount of knowledge necessary to "specialize" does not compare at all with the "learning through experience" going into the NFL. if you were ever to compare football to medicine it would be the residency period of a doctor's training, not the schooling.
To me the more important issue arising out of this case is how the NCAA fucked over Mike Williams (and possibly Clarett, but I don't remember him making any attempt to return to school). The courts said they could enter the draft, so he left school and hired an agent (all the things people do when entering the draft). Then at the last minute the case was overturned and he couldn't enter the draft, so he attempted to return to SC. The NCAA gave him the runaround and said that if he did a laundry list of things, he could regain his eligibility (pay back agent, grades, etc.). They strung out the process until essentially the opening week of the season before just telling Williams to get bent. Not only did the NCAA refuse to view it as a unique case where clearly some leniency/flexibility should be employed (How was he to know the case would be overturned?), but they made the kid jump through hoops only to give him a big middle finger right before the season started.
I know Mike fizzled out in the pros (sorry, Lions fans) but he was an unstoppable force in college. I have plenty of Trojan friends who say without batting an eye that he is the best offensive player they've had in the last 20+ years. Have to think having to sit out an entire year hurt his career/development. Also, hard to imagine how good that SC team would have been with Williams in the fold (they went on to crush OU 55-19 in the national title game anyway).
In my opinion, one thing to consider is the physical development of these kids. If you have a 19- or 20-year-old kid who jumps to the NFL, there are no minor leagues to develop these kids.
There are a ton of high school kids drafted into MLB, but they usually start off in the minors because they're not ready to contribute at the highest levels.
When high school players were drafted into the NBA, the idea was often to let them be the 11th or 12th man until they developed the skills to contribute as a starter. Now they've got the D-League, where guys can go to hone their skills.
In football, there's no such thing. College is the "minor league." If you have a kid jump to the NFL who doesn't make it, it's goodbye forever. If he loses his eligibility, where can a guy go (without moving to Canada) to continue to develop and hone his skills? With 53-man rosters (and only 47 active players each week), you need guys on the team who can contribute on offense, defense, or special teams. You can't necessarily devote a couple roster spots to 19- or 20-year-olds who MIGHT develop into gamers someday. Some kids with inflated opinions of their own skills would be setting themselves up for disaster.
Also, the NFL is essentially a private company. They can choose who they hire and who they don't. If one of their requirements for employment is that someone is at least 3 years removed from high school, that's their prerogative.
When schools don't hire a fresh-out-of-college teacher because they want more "experience," isn't that essentially the same thing? It's the NCAA's way of guaranteeing that these potential employees have the physical and mental background to make them viable contributors to their company.
same reason those players won't avoid the dagger for the weight loss drugs. courts have found that the CBA creates a special arrangement that trumps existing law and requirements under state laws. there was an interesting article linked to by ESPN regarding this being debated in a moot court competition.
Professional sports are unique businesses whose collective bargaining agreements should be protected from state statutes by U.S. labor laws to preserve competitive balance. Moreover, the CBA requires the NFL to educate players only about its drug-testing policies, not about specific substances.
THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^, by Geaux Blue, is right. It isn't all of this other shit people are putting up here. I took Sports Law at U of M Law School a year after this case was decided (and we discussed it- shout out to Prof. Sherman Clark if he's reading. haha), and, basically, most of what people are writing on here is wholly irrelevant to the legal debate. As in, yes, they are nice considerations, such as the players being 19 years old or whatever, but they have absolutely zero with the court's ruling. You could maybe throw a lot of these non-legal arguments into a "Public Policy" heading in your brief, but. . . you wouldn't get very far. It's kind of extemperaneous (sp).
It comes down to following precedent, and it comes down to the fact that the Courts rarely ever want to disturb the "unique bundle of rights" that are negotiated through collective bargaining. Further, this is generally the province of the NLRB. Regardless, the court's thinking is that, if it were this important to the players, they'd bargain to let in 19 year-olds. It's a Law and Economics argument: if the players wanted this, they'd bargain for it by giving up something else. Thus, the NFL's CBA is the governing document. And it's in the CBA, and it isn't so egregious to meet a "strict scrutiny" test (which I believe would be the standard, but other lawyers, feel free to correct me) such as if, say, they said, "no black people can play in the NFL." yeah, that wouldn't fly, as it would be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And the "age" argument is only in place to protect older workers. It's not intended to protect 19 year olds, and the court knows that and it plays into their analysis- it has to be not only that the principle is violated, but also that the protected group (old people) is harmed.
In sum: it's because the government wants to promote collective bagaining, and they're pretty damn hands-off with it. If it were that important, the players would bargain for it.
"It's a Law and Economics argument: if the players wanted this, they'd bargain for it by giving up something else."
I"m not a lawyer but am a business graduate. I hadn't thought of it this way. I had been looking at it from the perspective of demanding something from a private employer and asking the courts to force special privileges to a non-protected group.
What you discussed makes a lot of sense.
Thanks. It's funny, I'm a law grad, and I find more "sense" in economic principles when applied to law, oftentimes. It was something that is growing in legal circles, with U of M having a decent curriculum in it. . . the University of Chicago, predictably, seems to be leading the charge.
As a labor attorney. . . This. Was going to respond but most of the points got states already.
The experience argument makes sense, but the differences are twofold here:
1. The NFL is essentially the sole employer for professional football players worldwide. That's why there is even a question.
2. Clarett wasn't turned down for employment. The NFL essentially said he wasn't allowed to even apply. That's why I don't like the NFL's argument. They can employ anyone they want, but as a monopoly, I feel they need to be forced to allow adults to apply.
The federal government sets all kinds of arbitrary age limits despite the fact that many people under these limits are mature enough to take part in whatever activity. So it stands as perfectly reasonable that an organization can set the same kind of limit.
I don't have the right to demand employment with, say, GM any more than Clarett had the right to demand employment with the NFL. He wasn't being barred from a profession, he was being barred from a particular employer.
The NFL is a monopoly, which is why it needed this implied anti-trust exemption in the first place. Sports monopolies are in some ways the purest form of monopoly (can you tell I was an econ major), because no one else is looking for the particular skill set of an NFL player. As a monopoly, it is important for the government to regulate their conduct--this is an Econ 101 idea.
You are correct that he had no right to demand a job from the NFL. However, the NFL's age rules arbitrarily denied him the ability to even apply for a job, which is why there was a court case.
And I should be able to collect $200 when I pass go - even going to jail!
Damn monopoly rules!
The NFL isn't a monopoly because it's the sole provider of professional football. It's a monopoly because it's the sole provider of NFL football as opposed to there being 32 individual providers of NFL football. At the time Clarett was seeking employment, the Arena league was perfectly functional, and at the current time there's the UFL. There are other options for using your skill at football.
Second, how was Clarett denied the ability to apply? He applied for the draft and was turned down. Signing a free agent contract isn't "application", it's employment. Employment doesn't extend only to being on a game-day roster, it applies whenever you're signed to a contract.
Even if you want to include the Arena League, which I really don't, Clarett could easily claim significant injury--Arena League salaries are so much less than NFL contracts, that not being allowed in the NFL drastically cuts his potential salary, perhaps by a factor of 100 or more.
Even so, the NFL is a football monopoly based on my knowledge of economics, just like Microsoft is considered by many to be. The NFL itself argues that it is a monopoly and deserves anti-trust exemptions--both in Clarett's case and the American Needle Case.
The application thing could be based on interpretation. He did ask to enter the draft and was denied--which you could consider an application. I don't. I'd consider that to be analogous to walking into a McDonalds, asking for an application, and then being told you were too young (at 19) to work there.
Many more players than are drafted apply for the draft. Teams are then free to evaluate and pick the players in the draft. Some are selected, some are not. I'd argue they "applied" and didn't get a job. A player may have declared and never gotten a whiff of interest from any club, but they still put their name in the ring--just about anyone can do this if they meet the eligibility requirement. Nothing says you even have to have played football before. Clarett didn't have that opportunity, because the NFL successfully sued to keep teams from being allowed to sign him. Thus, the NFL as a body prevented him from even being considered as a potential employee by the teams.
The legal side has been decided, but I strongly feel the Clarett was on the right side, despite losing, in this particular case.
For what it's worth, I agree with you re: Clarett. I, too, think it's kind of b.s. It's the "closed shop" union excluding qualified players to the detriment of those players and to their own benefit (the Unions) as Clarett/someone would take a spot of one of their members, and it is done in a context where there is monopoly pricing and bargaining power. It doesn't pass the "smell" test, though it is legal.
What I walked away from Sports Law thinking was that, basically, Courts don't like to intervene in these things, and when they do, they usually don't have the expertise they have in most other areas of law. It's like anything- the more cases the court hears/decides on an issue, the more specialized its expertise and understanding becomes. Hence, in sort of "niche" areas of law, you see what are widely considered to be sort of. . . confusing decisions. Federal Indian Law is one area- it's really complicated as well, and no one can really make any sense of the Supreme Court's decisions over the past 200 years when trying to reconcile them; even the Supreme Court justices themselves have said, essentially, "yeah, this whole area of law is a mess, and, crap, we don't really know what to do sometimes."
Not any other employer... the NFL has an anti-trust exemption...that make them different from "any other employer" such as GM
When has this guy ever made a right choice, I mean really.
I feel like the NBA and NFL wouldn't have these issues if their drafts worked like the NHL and MLB drafts (players don't lose their eligibility after being drafted).
But then again, I'm just some dude.
My thought is exactly what Magnus said. Also, you aren't going to make much of an argument against the legality of age requirements considering that there is an age requirement to become President.
The age requirement is in the Constitution. Has nothing to do with this.
Most jobs that pay even six figures require a college degree. Why shouldn't the NFL require three years of college? College football is training for the NFL at this point; the NFL is perfectly within their rights to require what they see as the proper amount of training and physical maturity.
The logic a lot use would be like someone without a degree who writes well wanting to teach English Comp in college. He might be good enough, but there is no way he is going to overturn the requirement for a degree.
Looking at the "age" part of the argument, I can think of a few hot-button laws based on age. The sexual "age of consent" and the age at which someone can legally drink alcohol are two that come to mind.
I wonder how proponents of either would react if a Clarett-style lawsuit were successful?