The Kevin Ware injury was undoubtedly one of the most gruesome and emotionally charged moments we’ll ever experience during a sporting event. With one freak injury on an Easter afternoon, the whole country became enthralled with Ware praying for his speedy and complete recovery. For some, the debate moved to paying college athletes for their athletic endeavors.
Millions watched a kid have a traumatic injury on national television and he’s not even getting paid for it. And who foots the bill if he has to continue to go to rehab years after he finishes up at Louisville? Who’s going to look after Ware if his career is suddenly over? (It’s been since revealed that Ware will never have to pay a medical bill for the injury.)
Now, more logs have been thrown into the fire as Louisville and Adidas have released shirts that say “Rise To The Occasion” with Ware’s number five on the back. Of course, Ware won’t get a dime from the shirts as it’s an NCAA violation. However, he is getting a tremendous outpouring of national support and his name is staying in the American consciousness. Since the shirt has been released (for $25.99), Louisville has agreed to waive royalty revenue for them and Adidas has agreed to donate a “portion” of the proceeds to a Louisville scholarship fund.
More murky waters emerge when you consider the fact that the NCAA has been able to get away with putting athletes’ numbers on memorabilia by saying that the number could represent ANY player who played with that number. With this shirt, though, Louisville and Adidas are admitting that the #5 represents Kevin Ware, so they are overtly selling his likeness for profit – no matter how much they end up donating.
So this begs the question: are the NCAA and Adidas exploiting Kevin Ware’s injury – the injury of a player who isn’t being compensated – to sell T-shirts and make a profit? Or are they just trying to show support of a player who risked it all on the court for them?
Below, Ware’s first public comments about his injury in a sit-down with ESPN.