CBS: No regrets on injury coverage

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 01, 2013
The chairman of CBS Sports had no regrets about banning further replays of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware's gruesome broken leg and says if anyone wants to watch it on the Internet, that's fine with him. CBS aired two quick replays Sunday from a wide enough distance for viewers to see the leg land awkwardly, but not any blood or bone. It hasn't been shown since on CBS. ''In today's world, if you want to see a piece of video instantaneously that you just saw on television, there are a million ways to do that,'' Sean McManus said Monday. ''I've seen statistics on the millions of views this piece of footage has had on YouTube and I have no problem with that.'' Ware was injured after attempting to block a shot in the Cardinals' regional final victory over Duke. The sight of his tibia bone protruding from his skin left coach Rick Pitino and his teammates in tears. Ware was operated on later Sunday and is expected to watch Louisville's Final Four appearance Saturday from the bench in Atlanta. The network received praise for restraint, although McManus said he knew people would say CBS should have shown it more because the network was in a position to document history. Several postings of CBS' coverage were quickly available with a search for Ware's name Monday afternoon. ''If people want to go watch the footage for whatever reason, they have a right to do so,'' McManus said. ''I just didn't think we had any obligation to be the facilitator of putting that footage back on the screen. We documented it, we described it and we showed it, and I think that was enough.'' It's considerably different from when Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann broke his leg during a Monday Night Football game in 1985. It was equally horrific, with bone jutting through skin. Back then, about the only way a viewer could see it again is if a television producer decided to show the replay, said Jeff Billings, a sports media professor at the University of Alabama. Aside from the availability of footage online now, many viewers have DVRs that enabled them to replay the incident as much as they wanted, Billings said. ''Current technology makes it a whole lot easier for them to take the high road,'' Billings said. CBS concentrated on the methods it had to tell the story that others did not have: access to players and coaches and pictures of their reactions, he said. The unedited video was hard to find on national news outlets within 24 hours, when it was still a fresh news story. CNN aired the sequence, but blurred out Ware's leg so the break was not visible. Fox News Channel and MSNBC did not show the video, representatives said. ABC's ''Good Morning America'' showed footage, again with the leg blurred. NBC's ''Today'' show and the CBS morning news program did not show it. At ESPN, executives set specific guidelines: Producers had discretion to use it on their own programs but they were to only show it once, not air it in slow motion and warn viewers in advance. Through Monday afternoon, spokesman Josh Krulewitz said he did not believe the network had shown it. McManus said CBS producers had not discussed whether the footage will be seen again; opportunities may come if Ware shows up at the Final Four this weekend. But he said he didn't see any reason why it should be. ''I just think that it's not necessary,'' he said. ''It's not journalistically important that we do that now because we told the story. I think we'll move on from that footage.'' Decisions like the one made by McManus and his producers are made by broadcasters globally. In Britain, sports broadcasters often self-censor footage they feel might distress viewers. Often an incident, such as a dangerous tackle in football, will be frozen at the point of contact to judge a referee's decision but no further footage will be shown. Sky Sports, which is operated by BSkyB, chose not to show replays in 2008 after then-Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva's left leg was broken following a tackle by Martin Taylor during a Premier League match at Birmingham. During an FA Cup match being broadcast globally in March 2012, then-Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed after suffering cardiac arrest on the pitch at Tottenham. ESPN's British channel, which was broadcasting the match live, showed no close-ups as Muamba, who survived, received treatment on the turf, instead it focused on the reaction of other players or wide shots of the stadium.
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