What’s the Big Deal with RI5E TO THE OCCASION?

Last Sunday, Louisville Cardinal Guard Kevin Ware suffered a devastating leg injury in the first half of their Elite Eight game, when he attempted to block a shot by Duke’s Tyler Thornton.  Ware’s leg snapped in two places, and he was left lying on the floor while his teammates and everyone in the building looked on in shock.  The Cardinals were visibly distraught, breaking down into tears as their fallen teammate had to exit the arena on a stretcher.  Ware suffered a compound fracture, ending his NCAA Tournament run, and placing his basketball career in jeopardy.  The Cardinals rallied around Ware in the second half, en route to a blowout victory over the Blue Devils.  After the game, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino told Press during every timeout he reminded his players what was on the line and told them to “bring Kevin home”.  And then the controversy started…..

Ware, a resident of the Atlanta area, is home now.  Not only is he home in Atlanta, but he’s home with his teammates who are now preparing for a match up with Michigan for the NCAA Championship after a dogfight against Wichita State tonight.  When the game tips off on Monday night, Michigan will have an uphill battle.  Ever since Ware’s injury, even the biggest of Final Four Cinderella’s like the Shockers have been forgotten.  Most (including myself) now just want to see the Cardinals go “all in for #5”, and “win it for Kevin”.

Earlier this week, Adidas (the apparel provider for Cardinals athletics) decided to support the Cardinals cause by printing special “Ri5e To The Occasion” shirts utilizing Ware’s number 5 instead of an S.  While I’m not gullible enough to say that Adidas doesn’t have financial interests in mind, I also don’t think this act is as malicious as some in the media are trying to make it seem.

I’ve heard people referencing the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit when talking about the shirt, and to me that argument falls on deaf ears.  Yes, technically the shirt uses Ware’s “likeness” for profitability.  But to me, that wasn’t the reason that Louisville decided to allow Adidas to print the shirt.  It was extremely evident that the Cardinals team drew motivation from the opportunity to send their fallen teammate home to the Final Four, and it was perhaps even more evident that Ware was going to be their biggest motivation to win the next two games as well.  Now they’re halfway to that goal, and the mission is still clear “win it for Kevin”.  Even with the biggest prize in their sport on the line the main motivation for not only the team, but the entire Cardinal fanbase truly seems to be winning a title for #5.  To me, that goes beyond selling the likeness of a player for gain.  To me, that’s an exception to the rule.

I also heard numerous people make comments about the price of the shirt, saying that “$24.99 is more then a normal shirt costs”.  To that I say this…..When was the last time you bought a licensed team apparel t-shirt?  Now I’m not a Louisville fan, so maybe there’s are cheaper than every other college teams, but I’ve bought numerous USC t-shirts from the Nike store for years, and I can’t remember one being less than $30.  I’ve also bought many Panthers shirts over the years as well, and they too have almost always been around $30 dollars.  But even if it was marked up some, to me it’s irrelevant.  Adidas has pledged to give a percentage of the profit to Louisville’s scholarship fund, and honestly the people who are buying the shirt won’t mind paying a few extra dollars (even though they aren’t) in order to help the school out.

The shirts have now been taken off the site, and honestly I don’t really agree with the decision.  To me, the cause was just, and the financial gain for Louisville was secondary to the support for Kevin.

Monday night I know one thing, I will be watching.  Even though I have no allegiance to the Cardinals I will be a Louisville fan on Monday.  I will wear Cardinal red on Monday, and be cheering hard for Russ “Russdiculous” Smith and the rest of the Cardinals who will be on the floor competing for a title.  But most of all I will be watching because I want to see the Cardinals “win it for Kevin”.  Yes Monday I, like many of us will be “all in for #5”, and I like many of us will be hoping the Cardinals can RI5E TO THE OCCASION…..

Please comment and follow me on twitter @danny_g13

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