When Luka Garza left his final collegiate game in tears on Monday, I was struck by the immediacy with which a player's career can stop and how confronting the complex emotions of all that is not a singular event. There are many reasons behind the strong emotions that bubble to the surface, because the collegiate experience is life-changing for them as it is those majoring in business or political science.
ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg dove into this idea while a guest on CBS Sports Radio's Zach Gelb Show last night, using Garza and Georgia Tech's Jose Alvarado as examples of the oft-transformative experience.
It's an important perspective and not one that needs to overshadow the issue of fair compensation or equity or any of the other pressing concerns facing the NCAA. It shouldn't be hard to appreciate there are thousands of lives made better by the experience of competing in athletics during their years on campus and yet it tends to either gets lost in the shuffle or minimized entirely as if admitting such would ruin any argument about improving conditions.
No one knows better than the actual athlete, so it seems essential to listen to both their criticism and praise of the current environment.