Updated: June 26, 2014

by Gary Norris Gray-BASN Staff Reporter

There is a current age limit in the National Basketball Association, The National Football League, The Winter and Summer Olympic Games but there are no age restrictions in The X-Games, The National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Motor Sports, or in professional Tennis and Golf. The Question should be asked why?

The issue returned to the sports world last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open. A pint size female hurricane from Northern California stormed the golf course in North Carolina with her young poise and determination to play the game that she loves.

Everybody remembers that infectious laugh and smile with braces.

Ms. Li states that she can beat her father on the golf course anytime; would not doubt that for a minute.
11 year old Korean American Lucy Li took the course this year thanks to her older brother and father who taught her the game.
She became the youngest to player in a major. Li just wants to have fun and meet famous female golfers. She did that last weekend in Carolina. She must have been in heaven, swinging the golf clubs which were the same height as she.
She watched Koreans, Inbee Park, Se Ri Pak, So Yeon Ryu, and Amy Yang, Americans, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and the grand dame Juli Inkster, along with Australian-Korean Minjee Lee.
Lucy Li must have felt right at home with half of the U.S. Open field Asian from the countries of The United States, Canada, Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
Ms. Li just wanted to have ice cream after the first round of the Women’s U.S. Open. Lucy Li had a very impressive first round. We all remember the American Sports Media fell in love with 14 year old Michelle Wie nine years ago. With the emergence of Lucy Li, Michelle Wie won her first major tournament on the same grounds as Li.
Lucy shot 78 and if she had not bogeyed twice and double bogeyed in a bunker once she would have had a low 70 score. She repeated the 78 score on Friday. It was unfortunate that Ms. Li missed the cut. Golf experts were impressed with the 11 year old’s swing and poise on the fairway. They also viewed how patient this little one happens to be.
The question is this a normal life for an 11 year old? She flies across the country from Northern California to South Beach Florida every summer.  Most 11 year olds are enjoying their friends, enjoying roller-coasters, beaches, parties, and ice cream cones. Li travels to be with her golfing coach.
The issue of age must be answered or we will be seeing eight year olds on the floor, diamond, courts, and golf courses.
Morgan Pressel was the youngest to win a professional championship. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007 at the age of 18.
17 year old Minjee Lee from Australia won the Victorian Open by six strokes for her first championshipespnw_g_howard_576
Three more ladies won championships at 19 years old. Lexi Thompson, Yani Tseng, and Inbee Park.
The youngest African American Ginger Howard of Bradenton Florida at 18 years old is also on the professional golf tour.
Maurice-Clarett1In tennis the current youngest African American 18 year old Taylor Townsend beat number 20 on the ladies tour list Aliza Cornet, advancing to the third round. On that day the Williams Sisters were ousted from the French Open.
Martina Hingis won the Australian Open tennis championship at age 16 in 1997. While 17 year old Venus Williams won the Mixed Doubles Championship down under in 1998.
 In the National Football League and the National Basketball Association there is an age limit. In the NBA it is 18 or one year after enrollment at a college or university.
The NFL will not draft college prospects until the end of their second year. The NFL rule I understand because the physical and strength skills needed to play the game.
In 2004 Maurice Clarett running back for the National Champion Ohio State University Buckeyes challenged the NFL rule that players had to wait three years to enter the league.
The lower courts agreed only to be overturned by The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then refused to be brought to the Supreme Court.
In 2012 The NFL eased up on this rule with many more underclassmen filling for the draft. Johnny “Football” Manziel and others have taken advantage and will play for NFL teams in 2014.
The NBA ruling is questionable with the top NBA stars coming out of high school and playing well. It started with Reggie Harding in 1962 with the Detroit Pistons. Harding could not play until his high school class graduated two years later.
This was a standing NBA rule. Ten years later Spencer Haywood challenged the NBA. regge
Haywood played for the upstart American Basketball Association before joining the NBA. In 1974 Moses Malone became the first player to go directly from high school to the NBA, playing with the Utah Jazz.
Today a few high school players dominate the floor Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Jeremy Tyler was the last player drafted from San Diego High School by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010.
The controversy continues as many state that young players (Basketball and Football) are not mentally and physically mature, while players in motor sports, tennis, golf, bowling, The Olympics, and The X-Games are participating in professional sports.
Mary Pierce the fiery tennis player paid the price for starting at an early age with mental issues and parental conflicts, while younger Tracy Austin’s body broke down before she reached the age of 25.
So, enjoy Lucy Li as she grows up in front of our eyes don’t put any pressure on her. Let her enjoy the game of golf and enjoy life. But the question needs to be answered.  HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG?
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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