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The Cost of Playing College Sports without Disability Insurance

Win at all costs seems to be the motto for college football. The sport itself is a major moneymaker for schools and yet most student athletes don’t have career-ending-disability insurance coverage. According to The Atlantic, those that do generally purchase disability insurance have permanent total disability, which means they would have to be permanently disabled without a hope of playing again to ever receive a dime from those policies (The $5 Million Question: The Atlantic, 11 April, 2013).

It was reported that Steve Spurrier, head football coach for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, tried to publicly shame one of his players, Jadeveon Clowney, for refusing to play due to an injury (The end of an era for Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns: Grantland, 16 December, 2013). This brings to mind how much pressure is placed on these young men. Since they are not paid a salary for their contribution to the sport, their only hope of making it into the pros is to play well and play often on the chance they’ll be drafted.

Frank N. Darras, America’s disability lawyer to the pros, comments on college sports and the role of disability insurance: “College athletes should take the opportunity to talk with an insurance expert to see what options are available. Injuries in sports like football are common and could mean the end of a possible career with the NFL. Disability insurance is there to cover the loss of income for professional athletes but works differently for college athletes. College athletes receive scholarships for school not as a salary, so the type of career-ending or draft-slot-drop coverage they select should be a well-researched decision.”

Mack Brown a.k.a. Mr. Football, who retired after sixteen seasons of coaching Texas Longhorn football, left a lasting impact in the world of college football after a career of coaching with integrity and civility. Brown was able to work well with his athletes to make a team that worked together and adapted consistently to their environment (The end of an era for Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns: Grantland, 16 December, 2013).

The shaming of injured players may not have happened under Mr. Football’s watch but it is only a matter of time before it becomes a common sight in college athletics. With coaches pushing players into stressful situations, injuries are more and more likely, which makes the option of career-ending coverage more and more tempting, despite the costs involved, says Darras. (Bleacher Report, Javedown Clowney Shows What Happens When College Players are Waiting to get Paid, October 7, 2013).

“In my estimation, college athletes are under a similar amount of stress as professional athletes,” says Darras. “As such, star athletes should consider disability insurance as a way to cover the potential loss of a rewarding career. College athletes should never underestimate what disability insurance can do for them and for their futures.”

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