Duke’s, Zion Williamson, injured himself 30 seconds into arguably the biggest college basketball rivalry in the country last night. Ticket prices were starting at $2,900 for this game and former president, Barack Obama, was in attendence.

The question of paying college athletes has gotten a lot more real since this injury. More realistic than ever.

My Experience

As someone who plays college golf at the very small, University in Chicago, I do not know the luxury of playing for a major D-1 title-contending university. Plus, Charlton Zimmerman isn’t as catchy of a name as Tuf Borland or Legend Brumbaugh (yes, those are real names of college football players).

However, I do experience similar struggles. I lift, go right to class, practice at 3, and then back home to hopefully eat or finish any homework that is due the next day. Sleep, rinse, and repeat! I wouldn’t trade my current experience for anything, but it does take a major toll on your mind and body.

This college experience that over 450,000 kids partake in isn’t for anyone. Sports alone is a 40 hour work week that doesn’t include class, study/homework time, or work outside of being a student-athlete.

My humblest of opinions

As someone that has gone through the experience without the notoriety or fame, you can NOT simply pay every college athlete. You can NOT just pay the football and basketball players who make the NCAA or universities the most money.

The shoes, gear, stipends, experiences, and education is enough. The likelihood of any student-athlete going pro in any sport is under 1%. Zion Williamson more than likely won’t need a Duke education because he will be a top 5 draft pick. He will instantly be making upwards of $50 million, counting endorsements and bonuses. For the other athletes at Duke and anywhere else, the education alone could cost up to $40,000 PER YEAR. The education alone is worth the 80 hour work weeks.

My Curveball

You can’t pay the athletes. However, you can allow them to go pro right out of high school and make money off of their names. The NCAA and universities have no right to be the only one making money off of Zion’s name. Let the athletes sell their jerseys for tattoos or sell autographs. The players are the ones putting in 80 hour work weeks to have their name be worth anything. This way Zion and his Duke 5-star teammates can make a little money while Duke University still makes a ton of money off of ticket sales for games like Duke-UNC.

For college football, let them go play in the new AAF or XFL league. I like a one year minimum in college football before going pro purely for safety. Even the Zion Williamson’s of college football aren’t physically ready for pro-football. This is where the rules would differ from football to basketball. The NCAA has not right owning the names of the kids who actually put in hard the work. This is border line stealing.

There is some value in going to a Duke type of University with a great basketball history and great coaching. Some things are under valued like the great PR players get and readiness for the NBA. The players need some compensation, but paying them isn’t a good or realistic option.

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