Every year there is a team every American champion in the NCAA Tournament. Everyone has a different reasons for championing their choice: 1) the team is playing Duke or Kentucky, 2) is his/her alma mater, 3) is are the underdog 4) was his/her pick to win the title in the Bracket Challenge. When Sunday had arrived and the Final Four was about to be set I realized I had no horse left in the running. The tournament was about to become extremely boring because I had no team to champion. Then a moment occurred which leaves every person, not sports fan, with a heavy heart. It’s a moment which this writer has not seen since Marcus Lattimore’s injury this season against Tennessee.
There is a mentality which is infamous in psychology called the myth of invulnerability which is rife among people in this world. This mentality causes a person to believe the bad things which occur to others could never happen to him/her. This mentality is humbled by moments like the injury sustained by Louisville guard Kevin Ware on Sunday. Who was Ware before the injury? He was the unassuming sophomore from the Bronx who entered the game when Peyton Siva or Russ Smith needed a blow. He averaged a mere 4.5 points a game in 16 minutes of play. The spotlight wasn’t rare, it was nonexistent. What is Kevin Ware now? He is an inspiration which will be pushing a Louisville team which emphatically embodied the epitome of team on Sunday. Tears streamed down the faces of teammates and Coach Rick Pitino. Pitino has oft been criticized for the way he treats his players on the sideline. They say Pitino needs to be a little more positive. Well, we saw Pitino is a man who has care and love for his players on Sunday. Tracy Wolfram fed Pitino a second opportunity during the post-game interview. We can only pray Pitino again proves his critics wrong and references Kevin Ware again this Saturday, win or lose. Kevin Ware’s injury is something which glues a team together in a fashion many cannot comprehend. These athletes have spent unimaginable hours together, building relationships with each other the office world can never understand. Ware will travel with the team to Atlanta and be able to share the excitement of a Final Four with his teammates; the people he would most want to spend it with. Aside from biding the Louisville team together, the injury also makes Louisville everyone’s horse.
The Cardinals are the #1 overall seed and many may be spending Saturday cheering for their bracket; however, it is inhumane to not have Kevin Ware on one’s mind when Louisville takes the court in the ATL. Louisville captured my heart the minute Chane Behanan broke down at the free throw line and captured the hearts of thousands with a showing of pure emotion which sports rarely allows to be shown. The emotion wasn’t glee at the sight of the championship trophy or the gloom of a defeat. The emotion wasn’t disappointment in failure to execute a plan or pride in the “W” captured. The emotion was a complex concoction of love and despair, passion and agony. Emotions which should never cross each other’s path produced something incredibly beautiful. I saw a tweet which read, “It’s pretty sad that it takes a compound leg fracture for this much good sportsmanship to be shown”. While the statement holds a plethora of truth; it is just as amazing the emotions a tragedy can extract. To see Louisville players crying on the court as their teammate is taken off with one of the more gruesome injuries in sports history is beautiful. Sports do not demand the emotions Kevin Ware’s injury extricated from the hearts of millions across America. Sports do not require the type of tears Louisville players and coaches shed on the court in Indianapolis. Sports give people the chance to escape the disasters of life. Put simply, sports are entertainment to try and escape the emotions life tosses at us. Kevin Ware’s injury has nothing to do with sports, but human emotions. Sports do not demand this emotions and is usually the medium used by people to escape them; nonetheless, when something as tragic as the injury to Kevin Ware occurs America takes a step back and realizes this is not about sports or sportsmanship. This is about a young man, not a basketball player. We cannot judge the emotions resulting from the tragic injury as sportsmanship, but the decency which makes humanity great at times. People (both in the game and around the nation) were not exuding great sportsmanship because of the injury, but exuding the beauty of human emotions. Kevin Ware is inspiration. He and his Louisville teammates have made people see a the beauty of camaraderie and captured the hearts of millions of Americans across the country.