Thank goodness Nerlens Noel had insurance.
As screams rang out from the court in Florida with Noel crumpled in a heap on the floor, the biggest question that everyone was seemingly asking was "is that it?"
Is that the moment that ruins a bright prospect's hope at making it to the big time—simply because of the insurance debts and the fact he was forced to play an extra year of college basketball instead of graduating through to the big time.
Fortunately, he did have insurance, as head coach John Calipari tweeted out earlier this morning—much to the relief of those who knew the teenager well.
And whilst relief is the right thing to feel for Noel, the pressing need of insurance for amateur athletes could not be more obvious than it is right now.
At one level, the issue about what age players should be allowed to feature into the big time is not the question here, as much as many will want to make that the case. The rules are the rules, and Noel knew full well that he would be playing college ball this season rather than playing in the NBA; the rule should be no excuse for an absence of insurance in amateur athletes.
For Noel, fortunately, he didn't make it an excuse, yet many amateur and semi-professional athletes will continue to fly into the face of danger by not heeding the warning sides that come out of a serious and career-threatening injury like this.
The same issue came when now Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee shattered his knee in the college Fiesta Bowl, but had taken insurance out before it just two days prior to the start of the championship game—fortunately for him.
Keith Lerner of Gainesville told Florida Today (h/t Sports Illustrated) following that injury just how smart of a decision it turned out to be.
Insurance agent Keith Lerner of Gainesville told Florida Today that the policy was signed and put into effect just prior to the national championship game, the newspaper said in a story for Tuesday editions.
"It was a real, real smart decision on his behalf," Lerner said. "He wanted to get as much insurance as he could. The ironic thing about it is that he waited so late in the season to get it that he got a lot more coverage than he could have at the beginning of the season."
Noel seemingly learned his lesson from McGahee, or from a wise coaching mentor, and had the insurance mechanisms in place to fall back on.
And as his college coach later commented, the decision could well turn out to be one that keeps his dream of playing in the NBA one day alive.
Questions about how his injury will affect his draft stock and whether he will still go as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft are all valid and have their time and place to be asked, and no doubt will be answered throughout the near future.
What is most clear, however, from all of this is the blessing that insurance can be for amateur athletes and whether or not they choose to utilize it.
Nerlens Noel's torn ACL proves that to be the case.
Should it be compulsory for amateur (college) athletes to have insurance?
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