As I stood in line waiting to order lunch at one of my favorite burger emporiums yesterday, I witnessed one of the most horrifying intercollegiate fights I’ve ever witnessed between University of Cincinnati (UC) and Xavier University’s men’s basketball teams as they played in a cross-town rivalry. The disturbing images are seared in my mind. I’ve not seen anything like it and hope to never again.
I’ll never forget the rage on the face of one UC player as he fought to breakaway from those holding him back from getting further involved in the fracas. If he had broken loose from the people holding him back, someone would be dead. He wasn’t looking to help break up the fight—he wanted a piece of anybody on the opposing team he could get his hands on. It was hard to believe that I was watching teams from two prestigious universities.
As is the case with many a cross-town rivalry, there was “normal” trash-talking back and forth prior to the game and, apparently, quite a bit during the game. The UC coach encouraged the officials to stop it, call technical fouls if they needed to, but the officials did nothing. This is a serious officiating breakdown and contributed mightily to this brawl.
I’m sure television replays of the brawl have been played hundreds of times on TV. But, that’s not important. I want to focus on what the UC coach, Mick Chronin, said about this after the game:
- He pointed out he had confiscated the jerseys of everyone of his team and will make a determination about who will be allowed to continue to play for UC. He’s not going to wait for the NCAA or his conference to tell him what to do—he’s going to “do the right thing” on his own. Fantastic!
- He said the UC players are on full scholarships for the purpose of getting an education. In exchange for the opportunity to get their education, they have the opportunity to represent the university on the basketball team. If they represent UC poorly, they won’t be playing ball on his team. Right on, Coach!
- He says few will ever see a dime for playing basketball anywhere. That is why they need to get their education.
- He said he hoped the UC athletic director and president would allow him to continue to coach the team. [Me, too! Mick is a class act!]
- He pointed out that, as an athlete, you need to know how to lose as well as how to win. Excellent point. While Xavier blew out UC in the game, Xavier needs to take a look at how they win.
Xavier, a Jesuit university, has an obligation to make the same determinations that Coach Chronin will for his team. They are not blameless in this ugly brawl. The post-game press conference by Xavier suggests that a couple of players need to be disciplined severely if not thrown off the team entirely. Here’s what one Xavier player said:
“That’s what you’re going to see from Xavier and Cincinnati,” Holloway said. “We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room – not thugs, but tough guys on the court. And we went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game.”
Well, Mr. Holloway, you get no respect from me. You didn’t gain my respect; you threw away any chance for it. “Gangster” and the notion of a Jesuit university are incompatible. You disrespect yourself, your team, your coach and Xavier University with your comments. The thing that really bothers me most is your comments are heartfelt—they come from you believe in your heart. There’s no place for you in intercollegiate sports, not with an attitude like that.
I’m a graduate of Santa Clara University, a Jesuit university. What I saw and heard yesterday is incompatible with the ideals of a Jesuit university. I’m certain Xavier will take bold action in response. But, I’m stunned that Xavier has complicity in this ugly event.
© 2011 Dave Gardner