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Your Boss Can’t Ask How Many Testicles You Have. Why Can NFL Coaches?

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Linebacker Eric Striker of Oklahoma runs the 40-yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.

Amid the 40-yard-dashes and 225-pound bench-presses of last week’s NFL combine, one cornerback hopeful faced a less expected form of screening. A prospective team reportedly wanted to know: Did he have both of his testicles? “I was like yeah, I don’t know why you got to ask,” Kris Boyd, a senior at the University of Texas, told ESPN‘s Jeff Legwold.

The NFL combine—and similar job-interview screening procedures in other professional sports like basketball, soccer, and hockey—are a unique part of the hiring process for pretty unique jobs. But whether that process squares with federally-required employment-law protections isn’t always clear. Professional sports teams screen prospective players though tests, questioning, and scouting in ways that would certainly be unusual for the interview process of a desk job. But is it legal for teams to ask how many testicles a player has? Does the law apply differently to professional sports leagues and their members than it does to, say, a construction company or marketing firm?

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