Kevin Ware suffered a horrific leg injury Sunday, and everyone was talking about it. I knew about some of this because I got a few texts, and my e-mail inbox kept dinging in my pocket during the Louisvillle-Duke game. I tried to ignore it all while with family on Easter.
The confluence of Easter Sunday falling during the NCAA Tournament (and having both games right in the middle of the afternoon and early evening in the Midwest) led to some decisions, and so for me, it was to DVR the second game and go to an early dinner. So, I wasn’t caught up in the immediate emotion of what happened in real-time. By the time we got home and I got the kids to bed, and sat down, all I knew was that something had happened with an injury to Kevin Ware. I was blissfully unaware of what was going on with that injury, and the aftermath on Twitter and reaction to whether or not to post images of it, though.
So, I sat and watched the game, not knowing exactly when it would happen, or what exactly happened. There were a few other falls by Ware in the game, and knowing that he got hurt, I felt sympathy for what might be about to happen. Then, he charged from the free throw line to contest that shot, and I saw the leg snap immediately on impact. Painful, horrible sports injury.
I would have never guessed, though, that injury would have led to a firestorm and a discussion about whether to show it on CBS or websites. If you had asked me if this was the moral line of demarcation, I would have laughed at you last night. I understand individuals saying “I don’t want to see that again” who saw it live. Totally understand that. We all have different things we are comfortable seeing. My wife’s reaction was more powerful than mine upon seeing what happened. Guess which one of us cleans up the bodily fluids from the kids? Not the one who works in the health care industry.
So, I cannot and will not tell you what to think. Everybody can do what they want there. I was just honestly stunned that it was a controversial thing to post about it, at least more controversial than any number of things that have appeared here and elsewhere. My wife’s reaction: “I find posts about half dressed women far more questionable than posting about that injury.”
I guess people that are completely comfortable with watching people wobble off the field after getting potentially more severe long term head injuries see that dividing line somewhere I am missing. Our site had images of Robert Griffin’s lower leg going perpendicular to his femur when he tore his ACL, and we posted several things about it. It was the big story of that game, one you felt as the tide was building and Griffin was laboring on a sore leg. It was also a horrific painful injury, one I reacted to equally with the Ware injury. While people disagreed with my opinions expressed, I don’t recall any backlash for actually having images of the injury.
I finished watching Louisville’s victory in time to catch the late discussion, and ESPN choosing not to run the Ware injury. Twenty-three years ago, ESPN played footage of Hank Gathers dying on the court, stumbling to a stop (at least my recollection is they played it, since I remember seeing it from high school.) It was definitely included in the 30 for 30 documentary “Guru of Go.”
This is not to say that I disagree with including it that documentary, by the way. I would just think the line on whether footage is newsworthy while still being appropriate would have actual video of someone collapsing and convulsing and dying on the court far more to that end of the scale than a broken leg. I suspect that if there is ever a 30 for 30 on Louisville’s run this year, that injury will be shown and not kept away to protect adults from something. I guess I am just fascinated by all of this, as someone who was several hours behind.
If the concern is profiteering off of someone’s injury, I will just point out that news and events and injuries happen regardless of the existence of any one individual. You will see many features this week on Ware, and I guess we are okay with all the profit that will be turned while media outlets clamor for the next angle. (I loved Luke Winn’s early piece about Ware’s parents in Georgia waiting to see him play, by the way). I’m not saying I will not love to see more of that stuff, but if you are worried about media overkill, worry about them taking pictures of a guy just out of surgery in a private medical moment, or the myriad of stories where there will be accounts that draw broad sweeping conclusions about what is a sports injury. You can decide where that line between something that interests you and is newsworthy and discussion worthy, versus profiteering off an injury (however long and extensive that process of selling the Kevin Ware recovery story) resides.
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