Watching college basketball has been one of America’s favorite past times. March Madness, where the NCAA’s top schools compete in a tournament for the College Basketball National Championship can be considered its own version of the Super Bowl.

I have never been able to get into college basketball because I cannot support a league that exploits its athletes. It all starts with the infamous “one-and-done” rule of the NBA.

The rule was established during the 2005 NBA season and  set an age limit for amateur basketball players who were looking to enter the NBA Draft. This gave 18-year-old high school basketball players two options: you either play one year at a university or you try to ball it out professionally overseas. This puts players at risk of getting injured even before they reach the NBA.  It can add mileage to their bodies by having to play basketball games that doesn’t compensate them nor give them professional player status.

According to Fred Carter of ESPN one of the reasons high school players aren’t bypassing college for the NBA is the maturity factor and chance to build their work ethic.

“A young high school kid usually doesn’t realize how hard he has to work in the NBA and is left shell-shocked. He’s been Big Man On Campus in high school, and suddenly he isn’t the biggest, strongest or fastest anymore. It’s a huge adjustment,” said Carter on his old weekly NBA column for ESPN.

There is a solution for both of these problems in the NBA: the players that are already there. The veterans who have spent years in the league can help build these young men into professional athletes just the same as a college program would. The experience that professional players carry can go a long way in preparing  incoming rookies for what the grueling process is to succeed in the pros.

The time is up with this rule and there should be no more excuses. These colleges and universities have used the rule to take advantage of the talents of these young men. They are being used to make money come tournament time and aren’t getting compensated in any way financially. These colleges claim they are giving them academic opportunities and building them for the NBA, but are they really?  The reality is that in one year not much can be done in terms of education. These players are stuck with rigorous schedules. There is no time for them to even be in class. So, the excuse that they are being given a quality college education needs to be done away with.

In 2017, the NCAA made $1.1 billion in revenues. According to Sports Illustrated, the majority of this money came from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament TV rights and ticket sales. The tournament’s television rights brought in $821.4 million, while the ticket sales made $130 million. Basketball players received nothing from these sales.

It isn’t fair that the NCAA is banking off the performances put on by these talented players. I think it is criminal that these young men are not benefiting financially when they’re putting their careers at risk because they must ride out a useless year of college basketball. These men, who are competent enough to be playing in the NBA, are at risk playing games that put  a toll on their bodies, increasing their chances of getting injured. All so the NCAA could make money off the television views and popularity that their athletes will bring them.

“The NCAA is really f—ed up. Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education,” said Philadelphia 76ers player Ben Simmons for Business Insider.

Simmons is a player who had to go play at Louisiana State University for a year, when it was clear by NBA scouts that he was considered a top high school basketball player.

So, I call bull. The NCAA claims it’s giving these kids a better chance of succeeding in the NBA. Yet, plenty of NBA players did just fine coming straight out of high school. Take LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Both were young men who bypassed college before the passing of the “one-and-done” rule and still had successful careers. Both have won multiple NBA championships and made multiple NBA All-Star teams.

Nerlens Noel, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was originally being recruited out of high school as a future NBA prospect. The “one-and-done” rule prevented Noel from heading straight into the NBA and right before the 2013 NBA Draft Noel suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his lone season at Kentucky. The injury caused Noel to be picked later than expected in the draft. He went from the projected number one overall pick to the sixth pick overall in the draft.  Instances like these show how injuries in college can derail a players career. Amateur players do not have the same access to a medical staff like those that NBA teams invest in for their athletes. The same staffs that could’ve helped prevent injuries such as those suffered by Noel.

The rule was set into place by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, in hopes that this would prevent the past struggle of many NBA players like Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, and Darius Miles who had entered the NBA out of high school. These players came out of school and were expected to dominate in the NBA. Yet, with lackluster stats and not living up to the hype that surrounded them in high school, these men eventually fell out of the pros.

That’s why, I feel that when it comes to sports you either got it or you don’t! Enough of the excuses that we’re building these young men for the big leagues. You see it all over ESPN, most of these players come out of high school being considered to make it into the NBA. They have sports analyst raving about them on TV and most NBA experts are paying attention to them before they step onto a college court.

As a young person, I’ve always been told to take an opportunity when it is given to you, to use my talents and skills to make something of my life and to give myself a better life. I hear this advice frequently from the academic staff at my university. It saddens me that those young men coming out of high school with dreams of playing in the NBA aren’t given the same support.

“One-and-done was only perpetrated to help the colleges, and the NCAA and the NBA colluded. That was antitrust violation. They conspired to keep a kid in to benefit both of them. The NBA wanted them to go to one more year of college so they wouldn’t have to pay them. The NCAA needed one more year of college so they’d have all the great names play in their tournament,” said Sonny Vaccaro Nike’s former executive, in an interview with the Courier Journal.

The rule was created for the money hungry colleges and universities to cash in on millions, while capitalizing on the talents of the players. This is something that might be affecting the athletes at my university. It is heartbreaking.

Current NBA players are against the rule as well.   JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers guard and former Duke University basketball player, chose to play four years of college basketball and disagrees with the rule.

“If you’re good enough to play, then you should be in the NBA,” said Redick to Business Insider. “You should play. That’s why I always argue there shouldn’t be an age limit. Guys should be able to come out of high school, not spend a year in college.”

I say it’s time to get rid of the rule and let these young men control their destinies. The NBA needs to destroy the “one-and-done” rule and give these talented athletes the opportunity to enter the NBA when they want to. The reality is that some will be expected to succeed, and some will fail. But, if we really are the land of opportunity, then it’s time we start giving these college basketball players the chance at “opportunity.”

Luckily, progress is being made.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver commented on the progress being made July of this year.

“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,.” Silver said.

However, on Oct. 20, NBA Analyst Adrian Wojnarowski, announced that talks to get rid of the rule had stopped.

I say it should be the same young college students who give voice to these athletes. The ones who fill up arenas when these players play for their schools. It’s up to us to take a stand for the same young athletes who are walking the same halls as us every day.

Let’s work to get rid of this rule and give these youngsters a chance to make their dreams come true.

Because at the end of the day, if we don’t stand up for them, then no one else ever will.