On Safety

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Benefits for college athletes

April 2, 2013
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When professional athletes are injured on the job, they receive benefits. What about college-level players?

During the NCAA tournament, Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware broke his leg in two places in the Midwest Regional final against Duke on March 31. According to syndicated columnist David Sirota, Ware may be out of luck when it comes to how this injury could affect his scholarship at the college.

“If a player like Ware gets injured while on the job at a school that doesn’t offer a multi-year scholarship, the scholarship can be – and often is – revoked,” Sirota wrote in a piece posted on Salon.

Adding insult to injury, athletes on a scholarship who are injured while playing a sport may also have to pay medical bills for that injury.

Ware’s injury is particularly gruesome, and I wish him a speedy recovery. But his injury is just one of more than 12,000 annually affecting college athletes, a quarter of whom are seriously or severely injured. That’s a lot of young people potentially stuck with medical bills and/or a loss of scholarships for doing their “job.”

I realize this topic opens a whole can of worms – including whether or not college athletes should be further compensated for feats remarkably similar to those of professionals who rake in millions of dollars per year – but I feel it brings up an interesting point. Although they don’t receive paychecks or endorsement deals, it could be argued that college athletes work just as hard and entertain similar levels of fans as professional athletes.

But should the major difference between the two – playing for a university versus a professional sports team – dictate the care “employees” receive in the event of injury? I suggest it shouldn’t, but I’m curious to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments or at kyle.morrison@nsc.org.

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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