Man, this is the winter that never ends. I thought about trading in my golf clubs for a snow blower, but I could never be that depressed. So much for the weather.
It was amazing to watch how a blowout of a basketball shoe may actually be the thing that will bring the one-and-done rule to an end. Duke All-American forward Zion Williamson broke out of his school sponsored Nike shoe and the college basketball world went into shock.
Most people think that Williamson is the projected No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft. This is after he serves his time as a one-and-done guy to make money for the NCAA during his one college basketball season.
For three straight days, the media talked nonstop about whether Williamson should play another college season and risk losing all that money from the NBA. If he is really hurt bad, it would be a mistake to play again and risk losing a promising career.
It is hard to tell a kid with that kind of talent that he should play hurt for the good of a school and the NCAA when he does not earn a dime from that play. Of course, the school and NCAA are hauling in a boat load of money if he does play. However, if he is not seriously hurt, the question then becomes does he owe it to Duke University to finish the season and meet the obligations that a full ride scholarships entails?
It comes down to personal judgment and the player. What about his commitment to his teammates even if for only one season? Williamson is not the first athlete who has blown out a shoe, was not hurt seriously and came back to finish a season. The stupid one-and-done rule magnifies the fact that this particular athlete will probably make $20 million next year when he turns pro.
How does the NCAA defend their hypocritical stance about the student-athlete? It is a prime example of present-day NCAA basketball and football knee-deep in revenue. No one but the athlete should choose to continue the remainder of the season with his teammates or not.
Duke is one of the best teams in the country and if Williamson does play, he will have the opportunity to say he won or played for a national championship. In days gone by that was significant to an athlete. Money is great but it does not make you a champion. It only buys material belongings.
The Williamson situation has brought into focus that Division I basketball teams are mostly just a minor league for the NBA. Only about 1 percent of college players will ever step foot on an NBA floor, so why not allow the super human players to sign a professional contract right out of high school? If they want the money and can get the money, that is America. Let them go get it.
That leaves the other 99 percent of college players to truly become student-athletes like the NCAA preaches. The game might actually get cleaned up. If would eliminate the need for colleges to recruit one-and-done guys using shoe companies etc.
In baseball, superstars are signed right out of high school. Illegal recruiting does not exist. Money is such a motivating factor in football that many players refuse to play in bowl games for fear of getting hurt. This philosophy has even filtered down to the high school level. There have been stories that high school athletes do not finish out their high school seasons in various sports because they received a college scholarship and did not want to risk injury.
Come on, should athletes with a great future live in bubble wrap until they receive their scholarship or get paid the big money?
Anyone, including a gifted athlete, could more likely get hurt in an automobile accident than get injured in competition. The three-sport high school letterman no longer exists and now we have to be concerned that superstar athletes will not play and live in a bubble until they sign on the dotted line for the almighty dollar.
Most athletes do not have big money in their future, they do care about the school they play for and, most importantly, they understand and respect a commitment to their teammates. Let the superstars go ahead and make the big bucks and let the remaining 99 percent become student-athletes.
• The Big 12 men’s tournament will be up for grabs this year. There are at least six teams that could get hot and win the thing.
• The MIAA men’s tournament could have the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, the No. 1 team in the nation, at the top of the bracket. Basketball fans – get out and attend both tournaments.
• My quote of the week comes from three-time national NCAA champion and six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” Oh, by the way, Kareem did not live in bubble wrap!
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.