Marcus Lattimore's gruesome knee injury is the exact kind of tragic occurrence that highlights the failings of NCAA athletics.
Hopefully, Lattimore makes a full recovery, and none of this ends up being relative. As ESPN reports, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said of Lattimore, "We're optimistic his football days are ahead of him," but anyone who has seen the injury knows he has a long road back, and it is hard to envision him coming back as dangerous a runner as he was when he left.
Lattimore is the consensus pick as the best running back in college football, and he was an almost certain lock to go in the first round of the next NFL draft.
This injury has likely just cost Lattimore millions of dollars, and it is the kind of thing that every college athlete with an NFL future is just one play away from.
These stars of college football are putting their livelihood on the line every time they step on the field, and they do so while helping their respective schools and the NCAA make bundles of cash, all while not being paid with anything but their scholarship.
This is not a fair trade off for players of Lattimore's caliber, and the NCAA does not do nearly enough for those injured in its games but at least they do a little something.
To help combat this risk, the NCAA created the Exceptional Student Disability Insurance (ESDI) Program in 1990. This program is far from perfect.
For example, it does nothing to help a player who suffers an injury that simply reduces his NFL earning power. This is only for players who suffer "permanent, total disability."
It also comes with a big premium that can certainly dissuade players from participating, but let this serve as a reminder that they should. The NCAA should at least pick up the premiums, but as it is, players would still be wise to participate.
While the program needs to be enhanced, at least it is something. Hopefully, this insurance would never be needed, at which point the players would lament the loss of the money dumped into the premium, but that has to be far outweighed by the agony and regret that would be created by a severe injury.
A situation like Lattimore's, who, as Forbes' Patrick Rishe reports, may or may not have had this coverage, is heartbreaking. Here is a young man who has to deal not only with the thoughts that he may not be able to ever again play the game he's dominated and loves, but also now has to deal with the fact that millions of dollars are flying out the window.
This is a lot to handle and is something that is worth protecting against.
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