My friend Jenny was a highly-touted softball catcher in the Big-10. She had a quick bat, high fastpitch IQ (she started for the varsity team as a freshman) and one of the strongest throwing arms in southern California.
Today--her back riddled with herniated discs due to numerous home plate collisions--she spends her mornings lying in bed, waiting for the Vicodin and Percocet to take effect before she attempts the exceedingly difficult task of standing up.
She's 25 years old.
I was reminded of her story when I read this fascinating article (free registration may be required) in the New York Times. The article recounts the challenges facing some NCAA athletes after the games have stopped and mounting medical bills and permanent physical disabilities start to set in.
Though the the NCAA began mandating four years ago that college athletes need to have health insurance before competing, the article clearly demonstrates that the level of insurance coverage varies widely from school to school.
"While some colleges accept considerable responsibility for medical claims, many others assume almost none."
"Many students, whether athletes or not, have medical insurance through their parents. But these plans often exclude varsity sports injuries, limit out-of-state treatment or do not cover much of the bill."
"Some colleges buy secondary policies to fill the gaps, although even these plans have holes. And only players hurt badly enough to require extensive care can turn to the N.C.A.A. for coverage. Its catastrophic insurance carries a $75,000 deductible, which will increase to $90,000 next year."
Do you think NCAA schools should be responsible for the long-term medical care of all its players who are injured while playing sports at the collegiate level?
Or would such a staggering financial commitment destroy college sports altogether?