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How The Ware Injury Relates To Football

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kevin Ware, Louisville basketball player, became a household name overnight because of an injury. And not just any injury. A cringing, squirming, puking-up-your guts, something-we’ve-really-never-seen-before-in-all-of-sports injury.

That got me thinking: What if the same thing happened in football? Other sports?

Well, first off, it has. Maybe not as gruesome as the compound fracture Ware experienced in Louisville’s Elite Eight matchup against Duke, but the eyes-covering injuries have been there.

Take the obvious, Joe Theismann. In 1985, Lawrence Taylor famously rolled up the quarterback on a sack, inadvertently snapping his leg into a dangling 90-degree angle. Watch it if you dare. Oh goodness, don’t watch it.

Then there was the more recent, Willis McGahee, who took a shot to the knee in 2002, then again in 2012. (Side note: He’s torn two MCLs, an ACL, PCL and fractured a leg. The dude is still playing.)

Lastly, and probably the worst injury ever, was hockey player Clint Malarchuk, who had his throat slashed by a skate. Blood spewed all over the ice as players panicked, but he lived after heroics from a trainer. I’m not even going to link the video. Don’t watch it.

Which brings us back to Ware. Much has been made of his injury, which has received more public attention than any injury ever. The attention was propelled by social media, live streaming and the media’s relatively new standard of spreading information instantly. It rightfully deserved the attention, albeit in the worst way.

Unlike football and other sports, Ware’s situation was different. He was on a basketball court, in front of thousands of people. The hardwood in any gym is literally a stage, complete with tight camera angles and cell phone closeups.

The same is not true in football, where incidents occur far from the view of spectators and close initial camera shots (zoomed replays don’t count). Trainers have time to cover wounds, breaks and blood, protecting the athlete and the viewers.

If Ware had been a football player, there wouldn’t have been this much attention. There would have been less access to the images of reactions from the stands, which made Ware’s situation even worse. Actually, there wouldn’t have been reactions from fans; they wouldn’t have been able to see it. Half the players wouldn’t have been able to see it. It would have been over and talked about, but not like an injury on a basketball court.

You see, people expect injuries in football. It’s part of the game. Not so much in basketball, where becoming a household name doesn’t hinge on success alone.