On My Soapbox: Shoe explosion sparks conversation

Anyone who keeps up with college sports – or turns on a computer or picks up a newspaper – probably heard about the setback Duke basketball player Zion Williamson experienced this week.

Just 36 seconds into a big rivalry game between Duke and North Carolina, Williamson’s foot ripped through his shoe. It literally looked like his shoe exploded.

Unfortunately, the young man suffered an injury and may or may not miss the remainder of the season.

The big question is, “should Williamson play anymore this season?”

Why is this the big question? Because he is projected to be the number one draft pick in the NBA draft in June.

That decision begs another question – should players be allowed to come out early?

I don’t know this young man’s situation or upbringing, but he has the opportunity to earn millions of dollars as a 19-year old.

He also has the option to stay in school another year or so. He most likely will not choose the latter.

What could make him want to stay? Money, of course.

So, should college players get paid?

Well, yes and no.

Technically, most are already getting paid through scholarships. Not to mention “gifts” from alumni and boosters (yes, it is illegal).

I believe they should get some kind of stipend to help with money to eat after hours or hang out and have fun. That stipend should be blanketed across all Division I colleges so it doesn’t become a bidding war.

This might entice players to stay in college longer. Personally, I think players should have to stay in college for at least two or three years before they go pro.

I understand, in most cases, these players are not going to the big colleges because they are all A students. They have God-given talent, and it brings money to the university.

That doesn’t change the mission of the university, an education.

I know that college is not for everybody, but maybe the universities can encourage athletes (or any student) to enroll in programs for certification so they have a job after sports. Heaven forbid a superstar athlete gets a career-threatening or ending injury. But, it’s not like we haven’t seen it happen.

When it does, some players are stuck with lots of money to blow and very little education. That’s a bad combination.

As a parent, I am teaching my daughters to do it all. If they want to shoot a basketball, swing a golf club, kick a soccer ball or whatever, I’m behind them 100 percent. I will do everything in my power to provide the necessary tools for them to be successful.

However, I will instill that education comes first. If you can make the grade, you can play the game. Even if you do make the grades, your education is more important.

The game doesn’t last forever. A player can be great for 20 years or blowout a knee in their first game.

College degrees go with you to the grave.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but before I do, I want to mention that I am saddened that we still live in a world where racism exists. Jasmine is only 7 and has twice in school had to deal with racism from a classmate.

How do you tell a beautiful innocent little girl that type of ignorance is taught at her classmate’s home?

“It is time for everyone to sit down - the NCAA, the NBA, the players union and the coaching fraternity and come up with suitable solutions to these problems.”

- Dick Vitale

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