Are Adidas and Louisville profiting off Kevin Ware's horrific injury?

Jon Terbush
The WeekApril 3, 2013
Critics have accused Louisville and Adidas of exploiting Kevin Ware's gruesome injury.

The college is selling an Adidas-made shirt honoring Ware, but keeping the revenue for itself

On Wednesday, the University of Louisville and Adidas put a new basketball shirt up for sale that references Kevin Ware, the reserve guard who shattered his leg in the team's victory over Duke last weekend.

The decision has sparked outrage in some corners, with critics accusing the college and Adidas of shamelessly making money off a devastating, career-threatening injury.

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"Louisville and Adidas don't deserve to wring one more cent out of Kevin Ware's name, and they are greedy vampires for trying to do so now," says Deadspin's Tom Ley.

The shirt bears the slogan "Rise to the occasion," which Adidas has used on other team shirts during the tournament. The new shirts are a variation on that theme, but with the number five — Ware's jersey number — appearing on the back and replacing the "S" in "rise."

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The team was already issued similar warmups honoring Ware, which they'll use during the Final Four. But as Ley points out, those shirts were given only to players, and are not up for sale.

The shirts available to the public are selling at the Louisville team store for $25. However, Ware almost certainly won't see any of that revenue. College athletes are prohibited from receiving money for their efforts, a policy that has itself been criticized as a sign that the NCAA and colleges are profiting off the free labor of student athletes.

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"You almost have to tip your cap: No non-profit does buccaneer profiteering quite like the NCAA," says The Nation's Dave Zinn. "What other institution would see a tibia snap through a 20-year-old's skin on national television and see dollar signs?"

As CBS reported, Ware could lose his scholarship or end up with the full tab for his medical bills, even though he sustained his injury during a team game. So far, Louisville has said they have no plains to direct proceeds from the shirts to cover Ware's medical expenses.

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However, some fans may see the shirt in a different light, says SB Nation's Andrew Sharp.

Kevin Ware should have been getting paid when he was playing last weekend, but buying these shirts now isn't co-signing corporate greed and galling hypocrisy so much as saying, "Hey, I want to show love for Kevin Ware, because that kid seems awesome." And Kevin Ware probably thinks the shirts are pretty cool, too. [SB Nation]

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