Last Sunday, the Louisville-Duke game was playing while I was working on a project. My house has a strange feature: a window cutout in the wall between my office and my woman cave. From my desk, I can look through the wall and see the TV in the adjoining room. So I was half-watching, half-typing when I noticed the game had stopped.
It soon became clear that something horrible had happened to Louisville’s Kevin Ware. I moved to the sofa to give my full attention to the telecast, trying to figure out what that horrible something was. By then, CBS was showing nothing but reaction, of course. Finally, one of the announcers said the network would not replay the injury, which of course made me both more and less curious.
If a network eschews a replay of an injury — from all the different camera angles, with all the zooming in and the super slow-mo — then you know it’s bad. I held out until Monday, when I finally went online to see what had happened. I watched it once, saw the leg snap and almost threw up. Serves me right. I won’t watch it again.
Ware won’t watch it at all, he said this past week. Smart lad. He should focus on what comes next: healing, rehabilitation and hopefully full recovery. Someday, perhaps, he should watch the reaction of his teammates and his coach, just to know how much he means to them.
CBS made the right call on Sunday, and ESPN followed suit the next day. Of course, the video was all over the Internet in minutes, or so I’m told, so that ghouls and curious idiots like me could see it. Video is everywhere. Not to go all “Person of Interest” here, but we are being watched a lot of the time. And it can be both a blessing and a curse.
Mike Rice learned this week the downside of video being made public. And Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti learned that video will get out, one way or the other, right or wrong, and you should act and react accordingly.
After the Penn State scandal, I suggested that if I were running an athletic department, I’d implement electronic key cards in my facilities and closed-circuit cameras wherever they didn’t violate someone’s privacy. And I still think that’s the way to go.
What if there had been no video of Rice? What if, say, Lithuanian forward Gilvydas Biruta had complained to Pernetti about the constant barrage of homophobic slurs hurled his way and Rice simply denied it? Is it likely other players would have backed Biruta? None of them seems to have complained about Rice. Transferred, yes, but some of Rice’s players have defended him.
So why not videotape practice? This isn’t about the occasional swearing or a coach grabbing a kid by the jersey and moving him to the right place on the court. There is a tremendous difference between that and the array of names Rice called his players and the physical abuse he inflicted on them. Someone should have shut down Rice a long time ago, or got him help a lot sooner. If a camera can catch me zipping through a red light, why can’t it catch that level of abuse?
The NFL is embracing video, which has both helped make the league the behemoth it is and also helped damage its attendance numbers. Fans realize they can see the game just as well on high-def televisions. TV provides replays, retired players to explain plays, retired referees to explain rulings on the field — and it’s free (for the most part) and requires no travel to and from a stadium.
So NFL teams will now show a live feed from inside their locker rooms on their stadium scoreboards — feeds that won’t be seen on television. What could go wrong with that plan? (You aren’t missing anything. Not until video comes with aroma technology.)
Video is everywhere; you can see people doing almost anything you can think of on video. That’s why the decision not to televise Ware’s agony this past week was refreshing: It was such a rare instance of restraint. Enjoy it while it lasts.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit www.washingtonpost.com/hamilton.