That Broken Leg

by Doug Allen

Duke v Louisville

Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware’s extreme compound fracture yesterday was probably the most disturbing injury I’ve ever seen in person or televised, and after seeing the replays I was unable to watch the rest of the game. Ian Crouch analyzes other reactions:

Ware’s injury quickly became about a variety of other things. It was a media story: When did CBS decide to stop airing replays? Did it do the right thing? And a tech story: How does social media capture and shape cultural responses to live events? It became an infrastructure story: Did the elevated court on which the game was played, installed largely for aesthetic purposes, contribute to the way in which Ware jumped and fell? And it has become a question about ethics: Ware’s immediate pain, and the long-term physical challenges he will face, make the mounting questions about the compensation (or lack of it) and exploitation of college players all the more significant.

Barry Petchesky provides a thorough rundown of how TV networks addressed airing the injury. Despite its gruesome nature, Will Leitch doesn’t blame sites like Buzzfeed and Deadspin for posting the footage:

Whether or not you think it’s right or wrong for Deadspin and The Big Lead and Buzzfeed and Yahoo to profit off the incident, it is undeniable that people desperately wanted to see it. You can hardly call those sites rogue or somehow sadistic, unless you are willing to call the vast majority of humanity that (and you might be). But those sites aren’t peddling drugs to children; they’re running footage of a nationally televised event that tons of people were watching. Don’t blame them for the video — blame the rest of us.

That’s to say: Blame human nature. Even now, knowing how horrific the video is, having been told by so many people to stay far away… I’m still curious to watch it.

David Sirota worries about Ware’s future:

[His injury] will likely be remembered alongside Joe Theismann’s career-ender as one of the most tragically gruesome in sports history. But that’s not the only tragic and gruesome part of this episode, because unlike Theismann, who was working under a guaranteed contract, Ware was an NCAA athlete helping to generate millions of dollars for the NCAA, but not automatically guaranteed a four-year education scholarship. As in so many other similar cases, that means his injury in service to the NCAA’s multimillion-dollar machine could spell the end of his financial aid and massive healthcare bills to boot.

(Photo: Russ Smith #2, Gorgui Dieng #10, Chane Behanan #21 and assistant coach Kevin Keatts of the Louisville Cardinals react after Kevin Ware #5 suffered a compound fracture to his leg in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the Midwest Regional Final round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 31, 2013. By Andy Lyons/Getty Images)