As the NCAA March Madness tournament raged on over the weekend, millions of viewers witnessed one of the most gruesome injuries that can happen in sports. In an Elite 8 game against Duke, Louisville's Kevin Ware lept up in the air to contest a jumper and in some crazy, freaky collision of physics and bad luck, managed to hit the ground in a way that caused his shin bone to protrude from his skin. I won't link to it here but graphic pics, gifs and video of the fall and his splintered leg are not hard to find. Ware had emergency surgery on the fracture Sunday night and was photographed in the hospital holding the regional conference trophy.
Louisville managed to shake off the shock of witnessing their teammate's horrifying compound fracture and beat the Blue Devils 85-63. But Ware's injury still sparked a host of conversations about whether collegiate athletes deserve better health insurance benefits, whether players should be paid, and whether Ware will ever to be able to play again. Salon posted a great article called "Will Ware be stuck with the bill?" that touches on all of these subjects.
Health benefits for NCAA athletes vary by school and there are often cases where those athletes are left footing all or parts of their medical bills years later. And, unfortunately, players who are given scholarships typically have them revoked if they sustain an injury that doesn't allow them to continue to compete. With the most profitable sports populated by African Americans, Ware's injury should serve as a wake-up call, for our community, in particular, to the uncertainties and costs of collegiate athletics.
The good news for Ware is that many athletes in the modern era have come back from similar injuries. Ware's injury immediately drew comparisons to NFL players like Willis McGahee and Leon Washington and NBA players like Shaun Livingston. Even former QB Joe Theismann, who is best remembered for having his leg broken by Hall of Fame Linebacker Lawrence Taylor in a horrific collision that ended his career, reached out to Ware and wished him the best. Though Louisville announced that Ware’s Sunday night surgery was a success, we’ll have to hope that his rehab goes just as well.
While you weren't looking, Knicks guard JR Smith became the first player in the team's history to score 30 points off the bench in 3 consecutive games. If you remember, Smith was the one that made headlines when he was fined a whopping 25 grand by the NBA for posting an inappropriate photo to his timeline. The image was of VH1's "Love and Hip Hop New York" cast member Tahiry Jose who he was dating at the time.
Since then, Smith has wised up, letting his moves do the talking. He recently filled in as a starter while Lala's hubby Carmelo Anthony was out. Though he played very well and led the team to multiple wins, he still lacked patience at times and at least once cost his team a game with his erratic decision-making. However, he's corrected some of those issues and improved his play while remaining aggressive, making this season's Sixth Man of the Year Award well within his grasp. Don't count him out!
Former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson announced via Twitter that he was getting his awful face tattoo removed. This would have been a great April Fool's joke had I not recently seen Tyson's interview on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The profile was informative and heartbreaking as he broke down in tears talking about his efforts to repair his life (and to pay off the tax man to the tune of millions). But in a lighter moment, his wife commented on the face tattoo saying it was "sexy" and a brilliant "marketing move." There's a pot for every lid, I guess.
Serena Williams's rivalry with fellow tennis star Maria Sharapova is becoming more and more one-sided as time goes on. Despite Williams not playing at 100% during their Sony Open match, she still managed to win, giving us yet another reminder that Williams at 65% is frequently better than her opponents at their best.
Just because all of you baseball fans grumbled about having to watch the "terrible" Houston Astros Sunday night, the Astros trounced the Texas Rangers to sit atop the AL West (for now). Sports Illustrated broke down the Astros's use of tandem starters and how it might change the outlook for the team this season.
That wraps up this week's Sports Notes. Did we miss anything?
Jessica Danielle is a professional speechwriter who covers sports with wit and ardor at Playerperspective.com.