CBS handles Ware injury with restraint
by Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
Usually, sports television means sticking to the script.
But when Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware suffered a dramatic injury against Duke on CBS Sunday, game coverage was left, as analyst Clark Kellogg put it, “in totally uncharted territory for everybody in the building, for players, for us.”
CBS’ response was textbook — it let its pictures do the talking.
After Ware went down, Kellogg and play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz quickly realized it was time to largely shut up. After the injury occurred with Louisville up 21-20 with 6:33 left in the first half, they wisely avoided speculating about how the game might be affected — or what exactly had happened to Ware. Instead, they spoke sparingly, with Nantz suggesting we “look at the love on this team for their fallen teammate” as viewers were shown shots of stricken Louisville players.
CBS couldn’t really avoid showing a replay of the injury, given that TV coverage should at least give viewers access to anything they’d see if they were in the stands. CBS aired the cringe-inducing replay twice. Kellogg stated the obvious, but it seemed appropriate: “You never want to see that.” (And on its halftime studio coverage, CBS was sensible. Host Greg Gumbel said there would be no replay — “with the severity of that injury, we are not going to be showing it here.”)
But the CBS shots, from producer Mark Wolff and director Bob Fishman, seemed almost more compelling than replays of the injury itself. The closeups of seemingly mortified fans were jarring. The footage of Louisville coach Rick Pitino wiping away tears was a striking visual. And CBS followed the news, including showing Ware being driven away in an ambulance.
Pitino, on CBS post-game, recalled what Ware did after the injury: “All he’s saying is, ‘win the game,’ when the bone is sticking six inches out of his leg.”
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, in New York Sunday, told USA TODAY Sports that on-site production staffers made the initial call on limiting replay shots while network executives made the decision not to include it in halftime coverage. “We’re not going to show it again today … [For more on CBS handles Kevin Ware injury with restraint, click here.]