Courtesy of MCT
Every year, most Americans choose a team to worship in the NCAA Tournament.
Everyone has a different reason for their choice, but this year was an easy one for me as I cheered for my alma mater Ohio State.
But that ended when Wichita State defeated the Buckeyes last Saturday, throwing my patronage through a loop. The tournament bordered on tedious for me with no horse left to root for till the finish.
Suddenly, though, during the Duke-Louisville game, a moment occurred which left every individual, sports fan or not, with a heavy heart and sick stomach. Tantamount to the most disastrous injuries of sports lore, Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware’s compound fracture changed the image of March Madness 2013 forever.
Who was Ware before his injury? An unassuming sophomore from the Bronx who entered the game when Peyton Siva or Russ Smith needed a blow. Averaging a mere 4.5 points a game during 17 minutes of play, the spotlight wasn’t just rare, it was nonexistent.
Who is Ware now? He is an inspiration who will be pushing a Louisville squad that embodied the epitome of “team” on Sunday. Tears streamed down the faces of teammates and coach Rick Pitino as Ware was ushered off the court with the fracture, his bone protruding through his skin. Ware’s injury is the kind of thing that glues a team together in a fashion outsiders cannot comprehend.
The Cardinals are the No. 1 seed for the Midwest Region and many basketball fans may spending Saturday cheering for their bracket. It would be callous, however, to watch Louisville take the court in Atlanta and not think of Ware.
Louisville captured my heart the minute sophomore forward Chane Behanan broke down at the free throw line, grabbing at the hearts of thousands with his pure emotion: not glee in championship or gloom in defeat, but a complex concoction of love and agony.
I read a tweet that said, “It’s pretty sad that it takes a compound leg fracture for this much good sportsmanship to be shown.” While the statement holds truth, the emotions a tragedy can extract are just as amazing. The Louisville players crying as a teammate suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in sports history was awe-inspiring.
Sports do not demand the emotions Ware’s injury released from the heart of America. Sports do not require the type of tears shed on the court in Indianapolis. Sports are a medium used to flee the gauntlet of emotions life triggers. Put simply, sports generally give people the chance to escape.
Nonetheless, when something as tragic as Ware’s injury occurs, America takes a step back to realize this is not just about sports. Ware is a young man, not just a basketball player. We cannot judge the emotions resulting from his tragic injury as sportsmanship, but must instead see them as the decency which makes humanity great.
Ware is an inspiration. He and his teammates have helped people see the beauty of camaraderie. And that is why I will be cheering for Louisville this weekend.