It’s a good thing Kevin Ware had a health plan

Its a good thing Kevin Ware had a health plan

By Melissa Williams

Contributing writer

When you first become a Division I college athlete, before you get to open the box of new shoes, try on your XXL jersey that hangs to your knees or walk onto your new court in front of screaming fans, there is a very long process you go through. I call it signing your life away.

Essentially, you sign contract after contract saying, “No, I will not do drugs. No, I will not gamble. No, I will not participate in underage drinking. No, I will not accept any bribes or extra benefits due to my athletic stance.” And finally, “I hereby acknowledge that if I get hurt playing the sport that I was brought here to participate in, I will not sue the school for putting me in a position to get hurt.”

If you want to play NCAA ball, you have to accept that things are going to happen. They do happen, commonly, not just to mediocre players, but to big time players. Unfortunately, these things also happen not just in games, but in practice, in the weight room and possibly just playing a pickup game.

If you saw the Louisville versus Duke game on March 31, you know where this is headed.

Kevin Ware, a Louisville player, flew at his opponent with the intention of blocking a 3-point shot. Ware vastly overshot the jump and landed far behind his player, falling out of bounds. As he came down, landing with all his weight on his right foot, the lower half of his leg seemed to fold on itself. After a couple of seconds of confusion, the game was finally paused when Rick Pitino, Louisville’s head coach, as well as Ware’s teammates on the bench and on the court, stared in horror at the six inches of bone sticking out of Kevin’s shin.

Eastern Washington University athletic trainer Kacey Hoob added her two cents on Kevin Ware’s injury. She has taken care of my torn MCL, plantar fasciitus and drop finger. Hoob mentioned something to me that I need to remind myself once in a while.

“Well, you have to think about how much you guys actually play,” Kacey said.“Every practice, every shoot around, every game, … think about all the times you play and you don’t get hurt. It’s humbling as an athletic trainer to watch all you do. Of course we expect you to get hurt, that’s what keeps me in business.”

Unfortunately, and hilariously at the same time, I have seen injuries from falling off a weights platform to rolling an ankle running lines. Said players will remain nameless, as it is already a little embarrassing to tell your trainer you need your ankle taped because you tripped over the line.

Kevin Ware’s horrific injury during his Elite Eight game just goes to show that these things do happen, and once an athlete signs that sacred oath to be a Division I player, acceptance of injury becomes part of the job.

Ware seems extremely positive about his recovery, and said, “Everything happens for a reason.”

I mentioned earlier the waivers you have to sign in order to compete in NCAA athletics. What I didn’t mention is that within these contracts it is made sure that the student athlete has medical insurance, and if not, he or she may be offered insurance through the school. Therefore, if an injury should occur, athletes are first covered by their personal medical insurance, and the school picks up the remainder of the bill. Thank goodness for this little policy, otherwise I would have had to pay for one MRI and three X-rays in the last two years.

However when competing in the highest level, the NCAA tournament, athletes are covered even more. The NCAA covers medical expenses up to $90,000, and up to $2,000,000 for vast disfigurement.

Ware was rushed to the hospital via ambulance, and underwent surgery that placed a metal rod in his leg that can cost upwards of at least $5000. He will not be expected to pay a thing.

When you really look at it, we athletes are grateful for these contracts, even if it seems like we are signing our lives away for four or five years. We are in fact signing up for an upgrade. Yes, practices are rough and can last up to three or four hours. Yes, the season is long, going from October to March, even April sometimes. Yes, weights at six in the morning kick your butt. But the available rehab, the covered travel costs and the free food and cozy bed on the road are to die for.

Ware will not pay a dime for his extensive injury sustained while playing college basketball, and that’s the way it should be. Good thing he signed his paperwork.