The furore over potential profiteering by Louisville and Adidas from Kevin Ware’s injury via T-Shirt sales shouldn’t take away from the bigger story says Al Dannity.
It was a knuckleheaded move but one that can be forgiven. After Louisville’s players asked for something as a tribute to Kevin Ware, Adidas provided the players with warm-ups honouring their injured colleague. If it had ended there, the story would have stayed the same through Saturday night. Unfortunately Adidas and Louisville then started selling T-Shirts paying tribute to the sophomore. Given that anyone with a lick of knowledge about NCAA Basketball knows Kevin Ware can’t receive a penny from these sales, the university and manufacturer walked into a storm. It took a few hours for them to respond. Louisville’s athletic department announced it would receive no royalties from the sales and Adidas announced a donation to Louisville’s academic scholarship fund would be made for every shirt sold. It was the right thing to do. It would have just been a whole lot smarter if they made that decision and announcement before they started selling t-shirts.
Now that the wrong has been righted, it’s important that casual and hardcore fans of College Hoops re-focus on what really matters in this story. Kevin Ware, stricken by injury and in unimaginable pain, was focussed solely on telling his team-mates to win as he got stretchered off court. His team –mates, amateurs like Ware, turned up the heat to storm into the Final Four. Their next step was to bring the regional trophy to Ware in hospital. Then they asked for a way to pay homage to Ware. These are the facts that matter. What happened in between that and Saturday’s game with Wichita State shouldn’t detract from it in any way.
Louisville enter the Final Four as the unquestionable favourites. That’s normally a tough tag to carry as fans love a good underdog. Normally the Shockers would have all of America behind them. While they can still count on the Syracuse and Michigan fans to cheer them on because they would be the apparently softer option in the final, they will know that outside the Georgia Dome the vast majority of fans will be rooting for Louisville. They want to see Kevin Ware in the arena on Monday night. They want him to walk on court in crutches. He may not be able to climb the ladder but if the Cardinals win, he’ll get to cut the net. They’ll find a way. That’s the image everybody wants. That’s why Kevin Ware can inspire us all.