Student-athletes need to have contigency plans

I am pretty sure everyone, as they were driving home and recovering from all the activities that filled their spring break, heard about the injury that shook the NCAA tournament.

Louisville Cardinal guard Kevin Ware leaped to contest a three-point shot and landed in what I saw as a freak accident that led to his leg practically bending at a right angle, the bone coming through his skin. The actual break in his tibia occurred on impact and shot a piece of the split bone through his shin.

All of this happened in front of the bench full of his teammates, who faces just read pure horror and even brought some to tears; truthfully, I shed a few out of pure sympathy for this young athlete. An injury that severe would make even the most devoted basketball player never want to step foot on the court again.

Ware’s injury, as gruesome as it may be, isn’t the first to happen to college athletes that sometimes leads to the end of college careers. Doctors do project that Ware will play next season after a successful surgery, but what if he doesn’t?

What if he never regains the skills he once had? Players have a hard enough time coming back from torn ACLs, rarely pushing themselves back to their full intensity. This injury in college sports brings to light the need for college athletes to develop a backup plan before they accept scholarships to whichever school they decide to attend, because truthfully not everyone is meant to go pro.

We all remember that jock in high school whose only plan was to play football or basketball his whole life. He did not have a plan B, and C and D were not even a thought. This type of thinking plagues many athletes, and their worlds are shaken when the unexpected happens. College athletes fail to grasp how fragile their time on the court or the field is; it just takes one tackle or one foul to completely change the direction of your life.

I originally thought that most universities would not just leave injured players out in the cold. Unfortunately, college athletes are not employees and do not fall under worker compensation, and most scholarships are for a year – coaches decide if they will renew a player’s scholarship.

When it comes to medical bills, all athletes are required to be insured; this being said, bills still can pile up. The NCAA’s Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program reportedly comes with a $90,000 deductible, and the majority of athletes don’t qualify for it. So this leaves players stuck in the unknown, and the only clear way out is having a plan in place. College athletics is a billion dollar industry, where the main source of revenue does not receive a dime of the money; this alone should encourage players to protect themselves. Achieving the dream of being in professional sports is not unattainable for these players, but it should not be the only option.

Amber Patterson is a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her column runs weekly on Wednesdays.

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