Kevin Ware

I don’t really follow any sports (cycling included), but for those similarly unaware, it’s worth reading up on an incident from over the weekend in the NCAA college basketball tournament: Kevin Ware, a sophomore from Louisville, suffered a fluke, particularly gruesome compound leg fracture on live national TV.

The relevant points are all about the NCAA and its relationship to the players. It seems most likely that Ware won’t be able to play again for at least a year, maybe more, and quite possibly not ever at the same level. His scholarship arrangement isn’t public, but Louisville is staunchly against guaranteed athlete scholarships, so he is probably going to lose it. Even setting aside any long term health costs, it’s actually even possible that he could wind up paying exorbitant amounts for the immediate emergency and followup care. Beyond all that, his whole career plan most likely just went up in smoke, without ever having been compensated for his part as a critical worker in that billion dollar industry.

Now, in reality the media’s going to be watching this so presumably Louisville will look out for him pretty well. I think it most likely he is just looking at the opportunity cost of not having a pro career, rather than that *plus* a lot of immediate costs, *plus* his scholarship. However, there are tons of others out there who’ve suffered injuries bigger and smaller, without having the protection afforded by having it happen on prime time TV.

Meanwhile, the Louisville team alone is incredibly profitable, let alone the NCAA and the March Madness tournament as a whole…

These are good recaps of this incident and the Louisville team:

The context for this is the long term questions of how collegiate cycling matures and evolves, all of this going to the basic point that almost any step in the direction of the NCAA is not one that can be supported by any but the most basely profit-driven rationales.