Profiting from Ware’s injury unsettling

Paul Jannace

The NCAA has never been shy about trying to profit off its players.

Of course, those players who are the real reason why the NCAA, television networks, and athletic programs make so much money are not allowed to see any of that cash.

Being amateurs — sort of — and receiving a full ride to a Division I university is supposed to be reward enough for their work on the court, field, track, or ice. For many college athletes, especially those in football or basketball, that degree probably means very little and it’s basically a waiting game until they can get drafted to the NBA or NFL.

Everyone knows Kevin Ware’s name now, but for an unfortunate reason. Ware suffered a gruesome leg injury during Louisville’s regional final victory over Duke on?Easter Sunday.

Ware will travel with the team to the Final Four this weekend even though he obviously can’t play. The team will wear special T-shirts saying “Ri5e to the occasion” — a take on Ware’s jersey number 5.

There are likely to be plenty of fans wearing that shirt too during Louisville’s national semifinal against Wichita State.

You too can wear that special shirt to honor Ware ... if you spend $24.99 (plus tax).

Something feels dirty and wrong about the NCAA, Louisville, and Adidas — the company producing the shirts — profiting from Ware’s devastating injury.

Honoring the fallen player? Sure. Serving as a rallying cry for the team? Absolutely.

But is there a real reason to jack up the price of those shirts that much so that the parties involved will make some significant cash to commemorate a player’s injury?

Now, to be fair, Louisville announced that the university has waived the licensing royalty revenue connected to the shirt. In addition, Adidas will contribute a portion of every sale to the university’s scholarship fund.

Of course, the key word there is “portion.” So, someone will be making a little money off of it and that isn’t right.

In this case, 100 percent of the money made from the shirts should go to the school’s scholarship fund or a charity.

This is not the first time a situation like this has occurred in the “amateur” ranks of sports, and it certainly will not be the last.

The shirts are a nice way to honor Ware and something for the players and fans to feel more united during the Final Four. Something that should be a good thing for a kid has to be ruined by unnecessary greed.

Now, Ware will not be facing large medical bills since personal or family insurance serves as primary medical coverage for all Louisville athletes, according to a report from USA?Today.

That’s nice to hear — for him — so the money from the shirts will not have to go towards those expenses.

While the idea that Adidas will at least give some of the profits to a worthy cause, even one penny going into someone else’s pocket because of Ware’s injury should make us all roll our eyes and shake our heads.

Follow Paul Jannace on Twitter @pjscribe