PRYOR, OK —
Like many of you, I wasn't watching the Duke-Louisville game Sunday. I was having Easter dinner with my family and hiding eggs for my eight-year-old niece and two-year-old nephew.
My brother lives on about three or four acres, and we used just about all of it.
I'm very glad I was spending time with my family and not watching the last Elite Eight game of the tournament, because if I had been watching, I'd have seen one of the most gruesome injuries that anyone on a basketball court has ever sustained — Louisville guard Kevin Ware's awful, awful leg injury.
Like I said, I didn't see the injury, and I didn't seek it out on YouTube because that kind of thing just makes me upset. It was a popular topic on Twitter, though, so I heard about it. I also heard that CBS didn't have the decency to cut away from the aftermath even though they knew that this game would be on TVs all over the country with children watching.
It should be no surprise that someone who writes about sports must also love sports. However, I think the scale of modern sports has ruined some of the things that make those sports great.
For instance, that game was played at Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, several huge video boards and 70,000 people on any given Sunday. On this particular Sunday, these 70,000 people saw that injury in person and on those huge video boards, in addition to the millions who were filling up on turkey or ham at home.
Everything has to be gigantic now. Why can't Phog Allen Fieldhouse or Gallagher-Iba or Cameron Indoor host the Final Four? Too small. Doesn't matter that some of the greatest college basketball games of all time have been played in those arenas (the words 'hallowed' and 'historic' often precede the names of those arenas). There's just not enough room in there for all of the AT&T and McDonalds billboards.
And so, everything gets spread out. You could pay $300 for a ticket to Atlanta next week to watch Wichita State play Louisville and still be closer to your car in the parking lot than to the court itself. Size and money are the dominant factors now, and they have replaced tradition and respect, especially respect for the amateur athletes that play the game free-of-charge.
Kevin is doing fine, by the way. He had surgery to fix the leg Sunday and the team awarded him their regional championship trophy Monday.
Some athletes aren't as lucky as Kevin, though. It's those injuries that make me really upset, because often it means that athlete will never play the sport he or she loves again.
I was on the football team in high school when our senior free safety (and a church friend) tore his ACL in the second game of the season. He knew he was done the minute it happened, and he was weeping tears — not because of the injury or the pain, though you could tell it hurt like the dickens, but because he knew he was done with football.
Watching an athlete's career end is one of the few things that will make me tear up. I was watching when Tulane's Devon Walker fractured his spine during the Tulsa-Tulane football game last year, and I just wished that Fox would cut away from him lying on the turf.
Even the pilot episode of the fictional "Friday Night Lights" TV series had me teary-eyed, when the all-American QB Jason Street went down trying to make a tackle.
Injuries are part of sports. It's just the way things are. However, when there's one that's especially serious, and on such a large scale, it really sobers us up — especially those of us that make a living making jokes about Dwight Howard and Josh Hamilton.