Goodman: Questioning the internet reaction to Kevin Ware injury


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

Despite being a major college sports fan, I was unable to keep up with March Madness this year. So when I decided to forgo the Louisville-Duke match-up Sunday afternoon, I thought I was not going to miss more than a regular basketball game.

It wasn’t until I logged onto Bing — yes, I am a shameless user of Bing to gather Bing Rewards — and looked at the top search results that I learned about a Louisville player’s gruesome injury during the game. The player, Kevin Ware, a sophomore from the Bronx who played high school basketball in Georgia, received international media attention for his horrific injury.

Ware was attempting to block a 3-pointer when he awkwardly landed on his right leg, snapping the tibia and fibula and suffering a compound fracture. If you watch the video clip, it seems as though Ware’s leg bent at almost a 90-degree angle. The injury seemed unreal because the human leg is obviously not meant to bend in such a way. News outlets reported one of Ware’s broken bones stuck through his skin, but fortunately, this was not visible on the live broadcast.

The injury happened during a primetime sports game. Millions of people saw it live, while millions more in the digital universe were curious and also wanted to view the injury. Of course, everyone was concerned about Ware’s health, and some watched the video because they were incredulous that such an awful injury could actually occur. But I wonder about the digital obsession with this horrific injury: the YouTube clips that spread like wildfire and gained millions of views within only two days. Is the Internet’s obsession and sensationalism over Ware’s injury an appropriate reaction?

If being preoccupied with what happened is a problem, then I admit to being complicit in it. When I found out about Ware’s injury and read the description, I was in a room with shaky Internet access. I frantically searched for a video of the injury and would continue to search for additional videos when the original ones would not load. I watched the video about five times before I could truly see how Ware’s leg bent, and I shuddered when I saw it.

CBS only ran the replay of the injury twice during its live broadcast. But left to my own devices with the Internet, I allowed myself to repeatedly view the spectacle, almost desensitizing myself to the injury in question. It seems that part of the Internet has also become desensitized to Ware injury’s, with sensational, attention-grabbing video titles such as “KEVIN WARE INJURY!” and “KEVIN WARE SNAPS LEG!” Searching for videos among these titles made me feel guilty, as though I wanted to contribute to the media firestorm instead of showing concern for an injured player.

Because the injury could be seen in such graphic detail on television, millions of Americans could imagine its full impact. They could see Ware’s Louisville teammates turn away in agony. But they could also see more powerful, inspiring moments of the game. They witnessed the Louisville teammates embrace in a group circle in a touching moment that is not often seen March Madness. It seemed like all of America embraced Louisville, which went on to manhandle Duke with inspiration from Ware.

I was wooed by Internet search engines and YouTube, and I could not resist the temptation to see the unique injury myself. But I can hope that Ware’s injury has provided March Madness fans with some inspiration. I hope the Internet sensation has inspired us to be as strong and resilient as Ware and as close-knit as the Louisville team.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this letter, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].