Explain the entry-draft (sports) to me

I’m not sure this shouldn’t eb in the game room, but anyway. Please explain the thinking behind and working of the entry draft system for beginning proffesional sportsmen in the US.

And maybe more interestingly, doesn’t this violate some of the individual freedoms of these athletes? If an athlete lives and growes up in (for instance) San Diego CA and is picked by a team from north east, is he obligated to move across the country? Is there any way to have a professional carreer, while also being able to stay close to your family, hometown, etc.

I can answer the second question.

No. You either sign with the team that drafts you or you go to Europe or some other even more distant place to get out of the system.

Yes. If you are a super-duper star you can tell the drafting team to go jump. Eventually they’ll trade you to the team you want to play for just to get some value out of the deal. Manning-Rivers trade, e.g.

The goal is to ensure an even distribution of talent around the league and improve competitive balance. Franchises in the same sport, say hockey, aren’t really in economic competition with one another. In fact, there’s an economic interdependence between the teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs would go bankrupt if they drove every other hockey team out of business, and the fear is that if there is no competitive balance, than the uncompetitive teams will eventually have to go out of business for lack of fan support.

[Moderator hat on]Even though it is a question with a factual answer, it really does belong with the other sports discussions in the Game Room, so I’m moving it over there now.
[Moderator hat off]

No, the goal is to keep costs down. Competitive balance is just a side benefit. Amateurs would make significantly more money if there wasn’t an amateur draft. You can see this by taking a look at how much better paid individuals are who somehow manage to get out of the draft.

I think that the fact that it is allowed is more of a product of it not yet being properly challenged in the courts. It wouldn’t surprise if it amateur drafts are someday outlawed.

No, I’m pretty sure that competitive balance is the stated reason. You could hold that money is the *real *reason, in a capitalist-conspiracy sort of way, but it would just be speculation, and I think the odds favor the stated rationale.

Of course that is the stated reason. It let’s us underpay employees isn’t as catchy. If your true goal is competitive balance, there are better ways of achieving it. It does not require anti-competitive behavior.

It was the same reasoning given as to why baseball couldn’t allow free agency. It would destroy the competitive balance. Does anyone want to argue that was the true reason behind that policy?

Amateurs would not make more money without a draft.

Everyone not drafted can eventually be signed by any team that felt like it. In the off chance that this happens, the player is typically signed for almost nothing. And then if they’re good enough they rise in the ranks and make more money.

Everyone that is drafted makes standard amounts for how high they were drafted (give or take).

The only players that manage to get out of the draft and make huge boatloads of money are the heavily scrutnized “can’t miss” prospects that would have made huge boatloads of cash from the draft anyway.

Such as?

In football and (I think) baseball the draft rights to a player only last for one year. If the player absolutely refuses to sign with a team and is willing to sit out, play in Europe or whatever, he can then sign with whatever team he wants.

I don’t know about basketball and hockey, but I’d imagine there’s some time limit to draft rights.

In hockey, teams hold a players rights for 2 years, after which they can re-enter the draft. Those 2 years start after a player is eligible to sign an NHL contract. NCAA prospects can’t sign a contract so the team holds their rights until 2 years after they leave the NCAA.

Not quite. In both sports, a player who sits out the entire year does not become a free agent; he is simply eligible to re-enter the draft, this time with a year of inactivity under his belt. Because this hurts both team and player, it rarely happens.

In baseball if they don’t sign they are reentered into the draft.

Hawkeyeop, also note that in the major American pro sports, there are collective baragaining agreements which dictate that the players as a whole receive a fixed percentage of revenue. Presumably, then, a free market for rookies, even if it led to higher salaries for new players, would not actually cost the owners money: it would cost the veterans money, as some of the resources that now go towards their compensation would have to be diverted to younger players.

If this is the true reason, why does the NHL persist in using the draft when the CBA contains a strict cap on rookie salaries?(IIRC, around $850K + bonus clauses that bring the contract to a maximum of around $3 million per year).

The NFL and NBA both have similar rookie salary caps (although less restrictive than the above), and yet continue to use the amateur draft as a way to evenly distribute talent.

It’s all part of the give and take between owners and players. A draft keeps owners’ costs down by preventing them from having to outbid each other on every young star coming out of college. Caps on rookie salaries increase the amount available for proven veterans (the ones actually negotiating these deals)

Maybe not everybody, but the top hundred prospects would make significantly more money.

If you aren’t one of the few hundred best prospects, then yes you won’t make much. If you are a top prospect, and you get out of the draft via a loophole, you will get more money every time.

Standards set by MLB. Amatuers have very little leverage, since they don’t have any alternatives. Hence the problem.

There is a giant difference between what “can’t miss” players get paid when they are drafted and what they would make in free agency. The top drafted guy this year got somewhere in the neighborhood of six and a half million (After a renegotiation due to baseball breaking its collective bargained agreement regarding the draft. And you wonder why I don’t fully trust the owners?) As a free agent he might have gotten quadruple that. Perhaps more. If you are a major league team would you rather sign the best prospect in baseball for $40 million or give it to Kyle Lohse? Just look at how much the Red Sox were willing to pay to get the rights to sign Dice-K cheaply. That is how much these prospects are being underpaid.

They are still going to paid reasonably well, but that isn’t the point. They aren’t receiving a fair market value. For a lot these guys this the only contract they will ever sign. The difference between 5 million and 20 million could be the difference between being set for life, and being broke right after leaving the game.

No. They have the freedom to abide by the terms and conditions of their future employer if they wish to work for them, and they have the freedom to walk away at their leisure. If I apply to a business and they tell me that the job is mine but only if I move to BF Utah, I can take it or leave it. That in no way violates my freedom, and it in no way violates the freedom of an athlete to impose the same conditions.

You must be joking. You didn’t actually believe Sprewell when he said that he needed the money to feed his children, did you? What was he feeding them, Beluga caviar and Kobe beef 24/7?

If you can’t find a way to live on $5 million you have a real problem. The rest is just for show.