In the wake of Zion Williamson’s knee injury on Wednesday against North Carolina, the debate has been on whether Williamson should sit out the rest of the season to preserve his draft spot and avoid risk of further injury.
College basketball is not the only sport this topic has been brought up in. Players skipping bowl games in college football to prepare for the NFL draft is continuing to grow popular among athletes. Here is why I believe this is ruining not only college athletics but making its way down to youth sports.
I will start by saying this. The NBA should allow high school basketball players to enter the draft. This allows a phenomenon like Williamson to skip his freshman year of college and go straight to making millions. I have no problem with this. Since this isn’t the case, here is why Williamson should play the rest of the season if healthy.
When Williamson signed his letter of intent last year, he didn’t sign to his personal well-being. He signed to Duke University, one of the finest universities in the country, and a blue blood program. He signed to a hall of fame coach and his teammates. He signed to the Cameron Crazies. College sports is so much more than just one athlete. If Williamson were to sit out the rest of the season, he leaves his teammates, coaches and fans in the dust.
“There is no “I” in team.” This saying has been used for years. Now all of a sudden, we throw this saying out the window when money is involved. Think about what this teaches our young athletes when they see a Zion Williamson or an Ed Oliver sit out the rest of the season or skip a bowl game. This teaches young athletes there personal goals are more important than the team they are on. This shouldn’t be the case. Being on a team is special and irreplaceable.
Could Williamson lose a couple million dollars if he played the rest of the season? It is possible, but if we are being realistic, it is very unlikely Williamson won’t be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Williamson knew what he was getting himself into. When an athlete signs his letter of intent, he is committing his full time and effort to the team and school rather than himself. An athlete is already getting a full ride to play a sport they love. They mine as well give their team and school everything they have for the little time they are there.