Whether you were watching live or not, you've most likely seen Kevin Ware's gruesome injury in the Louisville game. Just seeing the injury caused my body instantly assume the classic fight or fright pose – I ducked, I blinked, my eyes widened, my chin went down, and I made fists. And I was on my couch, at home, drinking beer. The bench players next to him freaked out. One vomited. This was a seriously frightening injury.
Once the shock wore off and Twitter finished being Twitter, I calmed down. And then I thought of Taylor Branch's seminal piece in The Atlantic. The term “student athlete,” as Branch pointed out, was “a formulation designed, as the sports economist Andrew Zimbalist has written, to help the NCAA in its ‘fight against workmen’s compensation insurance claims for injured football players’.”
Now, Ware will have all of his bills covered, but more importantly, the wheels of commerce get to keep turning.
This is a multi-billion dollar industry after all, and one where players like Kevin Ware generate all of the fan interest, and thus the revenue, only they don't get paid because that would ruin the purity of the student-athlete experience.
It's a great system.
So, how does Louisville respond to the injury? Well, they make a buck of course. You too can go to their shop and buy a $25 t-shirt which feeds off fans emotion from the injury.
What does Kevin Ware get from all of this? It's better not to ask – we don't want to ruin the purity of the sport.
h/t to Kenny Ocker