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Opinion: Real talk with Ryne: Safety matters to Mean Green
Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer
Athlete safety is an issue that has recently hit the spotlight. The NFL is cracking down on helmet-to-helmet contact, the NBA added additional penalties for harsh contact on mid-air players and even President Obama and Congress are entering the conversation on sports safety.
There are countless examples of the damages. In 2010, Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after a collision on the field, Mohammed Ali is a constant media example of head trauma and the Lakers’ Dwight Howard struggles to stay healthy enough to play a full season of basketball due to recurring shoulder and back problems.
There will always be a certain level of risk involved in sports. You can see that with the pile of injuries UNT men’s basketball is accruing this season.
The Mean Green has struggled to fill the holes left by injuries, falling to 3-10 in district play. The team has played games with as few as seven players. Most games, the starting five players see 30 or more of the 40 minutes. Senior Roger Franklin is the only player to start every game.
While UNT started with four seniors this season, Franklin is the only one who will play the rest of the season. Guard Brandon Walton was medically red-shirted after breaking his foot at the start of the season, forward Justin Patton has been in and out of the line-up dealing with knee problems and forward Jacob Holmen has been out since he received his third concussion in just over a year.
Walton will return to the court to play his final year of eligibility next season, but Patton and Holmen announced they are done with their collegiate basketball careers.
Holmen proclaimed how difficult the decision was to give up the game of basketball through Twitter on Monday.
“Shed a couple of tears today knowing that I won’t be able to play for my school anymore, but health comes first.” Holmen said.
Patton expressed his frustrations through Twitter.
“[I] couldn’t play last season because of transfer rules,” Patton said. “Now I can’t play this year because of injuries. I can’t win for losing.”
Fans flooded the two players with tweets of appreciation for their contributions to the Mean Green.
These two players are doing a very difficult thing: giving up a part of them. It should be said that these players are doing the right thing. They could risk their health for a team that desperately needs help, but at what cost?
So this is a salute to UNT, Patton and Holmen. As hard as this choice must be, it is the correct one. Here’s to the future of all three.