Let me catch up you up as quick as I can. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are two rival schools that play an annual game. If you know anything about sports than you would know that rivalries make meaningless game worth watching and meaningful games irresistible to view. This past weekend’s game saw an all out brawl the likes of the Knicks-Heat playoff brawl of years ago or your basic Hockey game. The brawl was so monumental that the refs called the game over with time left on the clock. Players were in each other’s face, punches were thrown, and blood was spilled, but it is what happened after this that makes me want to shake someone.
Let me start by saying that people forget the one crucial element in all of college sports. These athletes are kids. Sure, they may have a pro game but they are mentally still children and more importantly, students. Fights cannot always be avoided and it is truly unfortunate that a special player like Yancy Gates throws a haymaker that he will forever be remembered for. It is also unfortunate that he is being viewed a thug which is something that I take issue with. Maybe he is a thug and maybe he isn’t but who are we to judge him?
I have seem numerous amounts of fights on many levels in different sports but do not recall the word thug being used to describe a player. I think about Pedro Martinez when he was a Boston Redsox and the fight that this team had with the New York Yankees. Pedro (in what turned out to be in a hilarious moment) grabs the oldest player on the field, Don Zimmer, and throws him to the ground in a move that would rival any matador. After the hilarity and shock wore off, Pedro was vilified a little bit, but there were no name calling to suggest he was some Dominican gangster.
Let’s look at the NHL. Perhaps it does not help that I know very little about the sport outside the basic rules (I know enough to play Hockey on playstation), but it seems that fighting is almost encouraged. We are certainly not seeing a post game press conference about any in game fight because it is so much engrained into the psyche of the NHL and their fans. Better yet, you will see at least a fight a night on ESPN’s SportsCenter when NHL highlights are being shown.
So what makes this different? Is it because we are dealing with African American players? Is it that because these kids are being recruited from a ghetto near you that they must have this gangster mentality. I know that today’s Hip Hop culture with the sagging jeans doesn’t help but calling these bunch of kids from both teams thugs is sorely irresponsible.
Take into account that these knuckle heads were being dumb. They let the heat and the passion of the game get to them and they snapped. I do not see the referees being admonished for not calling the technical fouls they should have to let cooler heads prevail, but instead, they let the trash talking continue. No one can tell me that neither coach did not recognize how enraged their players were getting. A well placed time out to remind players that this game is not about them would have sufficed.
Instead you had pandemonium break loose to such a level that Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters is looking to press charges. That is insane and uncalled for. Yancy Gates and the Cincinnati players are all remorseful for what happened. Their status on the team is in question. Their scholarship was undoubtably in question and that multi game suspension is some thing that hurts more than any punch thrown and received.
The pain on Yancy Gates’ face is evidence that he is just a kid that made a mistake because real thugs and gangsters don’t cry.