What looked at first to be a routine block attempt turned out to be one of the most disturbing injuries ever seen on live television. A reserve player on Louisville’s bench named Kevin Ware dove towards Duke guard Tyler Thornton in order to block his shot; he ended up landing awkwardly and breaking his leg so badly that the bone literally ripped through his skin as he is riving on the floor in pain, his season and possibly his career is over.
There was a surreal moment of reflection when everybody in the arena realized how bad the injury was, it hit you that this was just a game, and these were just kids. The tears that were shed by the players on the court and Louisville coach Rick Patino were gut wrenching to watch, the announcers were at a loss for words, and after the moment pasted and Ware was carted off the court, like everything in show business, the show went on. The only thing is that this is not a business for these players; it is for the coaches, the schools, the conferences and the NCAA but for the players it is just a game. Regardless of what happens if they win they reap none of the benefits, and they lose they receive all of the blame. Anyone who does their job and does it exceedingly well should be compensated for their efforts. That’s what this country was founded on and prides itself for.
Most players in NCAA Athletics don’t get full rides to college and that is just to retort the argument that a free college education is compensation for these student athletes. Those scholarships handed out are not guaranteed, so in situations like Kevin Ware, if he was offered a scholarship, he could now lose it next year if Louisville decides not to honor it. If that was Kevin’s way of affording a higher education, how will he be able to attend Louisville without going into debt filling for loans, receive educational grants or paying for it out of pocket? The scholarships offered by these schools are so conditional it seems as if it is easier to lose them than it is to keep them. The NCAA’s rules and regulations on player conduct and improper benefits has cost players their careers over tickets to a concert from boosters to money for gas from coaches. Remember, getting banned from their sport is basically losing their livelihood, they can’t play the game they love and most likely will not be able to attend the school they love.
Collegiate players are cash cow’s for their schools and the NCAA at large. Through their popularity and success in the sport comes an increase in paraphernalia sales, an increase in school attendance and an increase in sponsorships. What job doesn’t allow you to receive benefits especially when you work full time. Ware’s impending surgery’s and rehab will most likely be footed by Louisville just out of morals, but the “what next” question will come a lot sooner for this kid than later. There is no 401 K, there is no severance pay, no compensation package, after Kevin Ware gets all patched up, if he not able to play basketball again at the level he was before, he will be thrust out into the world to figure it for himself without a dime from the company he worked for.
These players are professional athletes, period. They deserve to be treated as such; just because you happen to be in school doesn’t mean its O.K. to not be compensated. There is so much money floating around these sports it is asinine that the people who make the product the most profitable receive none of the profits. Television contracts operate the same no matter if it is the NBA or NCAA Basketball. Television networks throw in bids get big market games on their network and they pay top dollar to do so. So just like you want to see LeBron James versus Kobe Bryant, you want to see the stars at Duke vs the stars at North Carolina, and companies who pump money into these games know that. It feels like this is “The Hunger Games” sometimes, we watch these athletes for our own entertainment as they battle each other for nothing more than “honor” and “pride”.
Maybe Kevin Ware doesn’t make Millions of dollars a year, maybe he iss not able to negotiate his contract and test the free agency market like the NBA, but he as well as every other athlete in collegiate sports should be compensated for reaching a level of competitive sports that most individuals will never get to participate in. This is not just a game they play, it is their job; if they’re good enough at this job on this level, another job will pay for their services when they decide to take their talents to another organization. With all that being said, money doesn’t un-break Kevin’s leg, it doesn’t make his injury any less gruesome, but if you had to choose, would you rather be injured on the job and receive your benefits, or get injured playing around and receive nothing?