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Case for paying college athletes: Adidas profiting off Kevin Ware’s injury

adidas-louisville-kevin-ware-tshirtsLouisville announced that it will sell a shirt as a “respectful tribute” to Kevin Ware and his awesomely gross injury from their Elite Eight game against Duke. Does anyone else think that it’s a little messed up for someone to try to profit off of someone snapping their leg in half on national television? The University did, because they they are waiving the licensing fee that they normally receive on merchandise for this shirt. I guess that means only the employees of Adidas are going to Hell.

Sure, Adidas is going to donate “a portion” of the proceeds to the school’s scholarship fund (whatever “a portion” might mean), but what about the leg that inspired this $24.99 cash grab? Do we finally have a case in which the NCAA has no excuse to not pay the player that is being used to make all of this money?

The NCAA has long claimed that since names are not on the backs of jerseys sold, there is no way to prove a jersey was sold because of a single player. So yeah, Michigan fans, you might have bought a number 10 jersey for Tom Brady or you might have bought it because of former walk-on Jordan Barpal. There’s no way to know. Except in this case, we do. This is a “respectful tribute” to Kevin Ware, not any other Cardinal that wore the number 5 before him. In this case, the shirt is being sold directly and undeniably because of Ware and that cracked leg of his. If they are willing to admit that all sales are because of him, he probably deserves a piece of the action.

To be fair, Louisville isn’t the first school that has admitted to selling a shirt because of a player. When current New York Giant Mark Herzlich was being treated for Ewing’s sarcoma, Boston College sold Beat Cancer t-shirts with the number 94 on them. But at least those proceeds went to cancer research. The Ware shirt proceeds are going to Adidas. Don’t get me wrong, Adidas has had some serious issues with the biggest athletes they sponsor being crippled (Derrick Rose) or unlikable (Dwight Howard/ND), but I still think that they are probably slightly less deserving of donations than cancer research.

If the proceeds were donated to a good cause – like dairy farmers, to produce milk for stronger bones – then I think I would be more ok with Ware being an involuntary volunteer for the cause. But, since the proceeds are going to a huge multinational corporation, I think Ware deserves a cut. If not for his blood, sweat, and tears (mostly blood and tears) this shirt would never have been made. Between Miami, Auburn, and others it becomes more and more clear everyday that players are being paid anyways, so just make this one official. Or put the money in aside and hold onto it until Ware graduates, I don’t care. It just seems a little bit disturbing that Adidas is going to benefit so much from this shirt. Not as disturbing as the injury that inspired the shirt (and my nightmares of the past week), but it’s still pretty unpleasant.

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