Jake Elmslie –Sports Editor
Duke forward and near lock to be the number one overall pick in this years NBA draft, Zion Williamson’s near brush with a disastrous injury Wednesday evening served as yet another among the countless reminders of the hypocrisy and injustice at play in college sports.
Williamson’s shoe fell apart mid game, causing him to leave the contest with what was later diagnosed as a grade one knee sprain, and like each and every college athletes, received zero payment for play. The incident in question came in a highly anticipated game between Duke and the University of North Carolina where ticket prices averaged around $2500 on the resale market. The shoes Williamson was wearing were only on his feet because of a lucrative contract between Nike and Duke coach Michael Krzyzewski that pays the loafer wearer an undisclosed amount to have his players sport Nike apparel during games.
The players, of course, see none of this money. Whether through hiding behind the fallacy of amateurism, or through pumping up the value of a full ride scholarship college sports, the NCAA continue to skate by operating a billion dollar industry with an entirely free labor force. This all happening while players are denied the right to profit off of their own likeness, removing any avenues for the individuals actually playing the game to generate revenue through their own efforts.
Realistically, Williamson will not suffer from this incident. He will be drafted as the top rookie in the NBA even if he never plays another minute for Duke, and he will be a multi-millionaire within the year and most likely has only seen the value of any potential shoe deal with one of Nike’s competitors increase as a result of this snafu. However, every college athlete is not Zion Williamson, and scores of student-athletes will never know the spoils of the zenith of their chosen sport by being fairly compensated for the revenue they bring into their institutions. This could go a long way in rectifying what is one of the most unjust industries in the United States. Even if every college athlete was destined for stardom and fortune, that would not justify the mass exploitation that the NCAA has carried out for over a century. Labor deserves pay and Williamson and all those like him deserve better.