As a “respectful tribute” to one of their players breaking a leg, the Louisville Cardinals and Adidas are putting out a “Rise To The Occasion” shirt featuring Kevin Ware’s number 5. A fitting tribute indeed — though Ware won’t see a dime from it. The Cardinals’ program, already the most profitable in a nation by a wide margin, will reap the rewards instead.
In response to a request from Ware’s teammates, Louisville’s “Rise” shirts were outfitted with the number to be worn at the Final Four, and fan interest in the gear soon followed. The Univeristy of Louisville, perhaps sensing that making money from licensing their logo for this purpose would look, well, awful, waived the royalties that normally come these products. Still, a portion of the proceeds will “benefit University of Louisville Athletics,” with the rest likely going directly to Adidas.
Should anyone be making money from this injury? If there’s an affirmative answer to that question, it should include Ware, the guy who saw his own shin bone sticking out of his leg and is now going through a painful and arduous rehabilitation process. But, true to form, the NCAA won’t allow amateurs to make money of their licensed apparel, instead sticking Ware with thousands in medical bills provided he falls short of the Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program — which normally requires the loss of a limb, or motion in that limb.
As this story made the rounds this morning, we couldn’t help but notice a particularly snarky comment on The Big Lead, which asked “So they should give them away for free?” That sounds quite nice, actually. Imagine Louisville fans and players alike decked out in Ware’s shirt, without having to contribute to Rick Pitino’s monstrous salary or Adidas’s ad campaigns? But that’s not capitalism, so, nice try, freeloaders. Go get your own lemonade — Louisville squeezed these bloody lemons themselves.
UPDATE: Darren Rovell reports that the tribute shirt is “not currently available due to a ‘logo issue.'” Take that with however many grains of salt you wish.