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Anyone who was watched the Duke college basketball game the other night saw the worst possible thing happen to Zion Williamson, the school’s young superstar. Thirty six seconds into the first half, Williamson landed on his left foot, and his shoe split apart. The unexpected slip by him that followed left him grabbing his knee in pain.
After the injury happened, the debate turned away from Williamson, who might skip the rest of the NCAA season to prepare for the NBA Draft. The conversation shifted to the impact injuries have on unpaid amateur athletes. The NBA requires high school prospects to go to college for one year before becoming draft eligible.
The “One-And-Done” system has been heavily criticized as both a detriment to athletes and colleges. If Williamson’s injury was more than just a sprain, it could have ended his career before it began, and he would have received zero compensation as a result. Worse, Duke might be able to pull his scholarship, forcing him to pay for college or un-enroll and head into an uncertain future.
In the long run, the impact of Zion Williamson’s exploding shoe probably won’t last. The NCAA will continue to make millions of dollars off of athletes under the guise they are getting a college education as payment. Of course, most don’t even finish their degree before turning pro. Maybe more should protect their health once their draft stock is set. What do you think?