The reaction to Kevin Ware's injury during the Lousivlle-Duke game continue to reveal the moment as unprecedented in sports broadcasting. From ESPN's decision to not show footage because it was so graphic to the Louisville broadcasters being moved to tears to the moral and ethical debate being played out on the web, it's been a fascinating insight into the current sports culture.
As far as the live broadcast goes, the consensus remains that CBS largely got it right. Two quick replays to show viewers what happened and then, once the gravity of the moment was realized, the focus turned to showing emotional images of Ware's teammates and the crowd with minimal commentary and no commercial break. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg were tasked with filling just 9 minutes of airtime that felt like 9 hours. During a conference call on Monday, the announcers shared what the experience was like…
Nantz: "When you're that close to it, it's hard to get the image out of your mind. … You replay it over and over in your head."
Kellogg: "As raw and emotional a circumstance as I've been involved with as a broadcaster."
Nantz: "There were people who were visibly sick in the stands. What could you say? There was very little you could add."
Nantz: "For it to happen right in front of his teammates, right by the bench, that reaction shot, to see the shock and horror from just a few feet away, it's kind of hard to get your mind around it."
Kellogg: "I was virtually not able to say anything. Actually, I was praying myself."
Nantz: "I kept thinking as it played out for nine minutes, if we're going to say anything, there better be a reason why you're talking because there is nothing we can add at that moment."
I believe it was those reaction shots that caused the moment to hit viewers in a more powerful way beyond other gruesome injuries we've seen in the past decade (Willis McGahee, Marcus Lattimore, etc). Seeing Ware's teammates crying on the floor and even the reaction of the Duke players immediately conveyed the shock and sadness of the moment. After seeing those images, there wasn't much Nantz and Kellogg could add to the equation, which was the best way to handle the situation in real time.