In the midst of Louisville’s 85-63, Final Four clinching victory over the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, Cardinal sophomore Kevin Ware suffered quite possibly the most gruesome leg injury in the history of competitive sports.
The screenshot seen below shows the full extent of his injury (WARNING – EXTREMELY GRAPHIC). Ware suffered a compound fracture – also known as an open fracture – which occurs when there is a break in the skin surrounding a broken bone. In Ware’s case, the bone was literally protruding through the skin.
While this is nonetheless a horrific and tragic event for the young man, the issue immediately surrounding the injury was not how the injury would impact Ware’s career or if Louisville could beat Duke.
But instead, the overriding topic of discussion was: should the injury – in the 24/7 news cycle, internet era – be shown and looped continuously for everyone to see.
Almost instantly, following the injury, a massive debate started to arise on Twitter over CBS’ coverage.
The network replayed video of the injury once or twice when it initially occurred, but they eventually (and correctly) opted to show reaction shots from Ware’s teammates and Duke opponents instead.
But ultimately, did CBS handle it correctly?
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated believes so, disagreeing with ESPN’s Bill Simmons on how the coverage was handled.
From there, the talk on Twitter spilled over to whether or not the injury should be made into a GIF and linked and shared for everyone to see.
SB Nation, the go-to site for sports GIFs, respectfully declined to make a GIF of the injury tweeting this instead.
Instead of showing the actual injury, SB Nation rounded up GIFs of of reaction shots of the Louisville and Duke players.
All told, the way in which the “internet community” handled the injury, in terms of choosing a compassionate, sympathetic approach as opposed to a schadenfreude, voyeuristic approach couldn’t have been better.
However, to me, discretion was certainly the better part of valor for both CBS and ESPN, as well as the Twitter community. Injuries like this have happened before. Just because one has the means and technology to watch it and distribute it on a continuous loop doesn’t mean one should.
Let’s hope that as we move forward, this is the rule and not the exception.