I’ve literally been shocked by how much the nation has paid attention to Kevin Wares injury. Yes, it was gruesome and gruesome always makes the news. There are the rare few injuries that make themselves part of American sports injuries. Joe Theisman is the one that comes to mind for everyone old enough to remember. Yet there have been many other just as gruesome injuries that quickly and quietly slip from our collective memories. Very few people remember the details of Marcus Lattimores knee injury just last fall, and that was an extremely gruesome looking injury. Thinking of that made me wonder why Wares injury has grown to such a national topic of conversation, even outside of the sports arena. It’s been a topic on all of the major morning news shows and rumor has it that even Oprah wants to do an interview with Ware.
All of this makes me ask “why?” Is it because it was so gruesome? Maybe, but there has to be more to it than that. Is it because it was on prime time TV at the height of March Madness? Maybe, but again, there has to be more to it than that.
I think I know the answer: Love. To put it more succinctly, the tangible expression of love.
I’m the crusty old bastard that cries once every 5-7 years whether I need to or not. Yet I found myself tearing up and having a lump in my throat several minutes after the injury. Not because a young man had just broken his leg in a horrific manner, but because of the love I was seeing from every other member of the staff and team.
The image that I’ll always remember isn’t of Wares leg, or even Ware himself, but of the raw emotion that came out of everyone else. The immediate reaction of Behanan, Blackshear and Siva collapsing on the court was one of the most powerful images I’ve ever seen in sports. They’re all powerful young men that thrive under pressure at the highest level, yet the love for a fallen team mate instantly dropped them to their knees. Russ Smith is often described with words like “fearless” or “courageous”, yet he was disabled by emotion. From Pitino wiping tears to Hancock kneeling over his fallen team mate trying to comfort him while medical staff attended to his leg, the examples were endless.
Then, just when we thought we’d seen all of the love that could be seen between teammates, we saw another great act of love when Ware himself put aside his injury and pain for as long as possible just so he could tell the rest of the guys to win the game. During a time when it would be expected for someone in that position to be completely self centered, Ware chose to cheer on his brothers.
We later learned that the only time Ware shed a tear was in the hospital watching the post game and hearing his team talking about him.
Without realizing it at the time, we all became so engrossed in this story not because a valuable member of our favorite team was taken out by injury, but because we saw tangible proof of love.
Emotions drive us as humans. Our own emotions drive us, but we want external shows of emotion to trigger ours as well. We’ll pay money to see a tear jerker or a comedy that speaks to our basic emotions. This was a moment in time when literally the whole nation was watching, and was moved by emotion (in this case love) in such a spontaneous manner.
As UofL fans, we’ve heard all year about how close this team is. You can hear about such things, but you rarely get to see it on display. We saw what we’ve been hearing about all year. These guys aren’t just team mates-- they’re brothers and they love each other.
I think that’s why the nation has latched on to this story: Not because of a gruesome injury, but because a gruesome injury allowed us all to see something much deeper in a team of players, and a group of brothers. In todays microwave, me first society, we all liked that we saw in a group of young men that put each other first.