“That’s what your gonna see from Xavier and Cincinnati.” That’s what Tu Holloway had to say about the brawl that erupted at the end of the Xavier Cincinnati game. That’s not all he had to say about it — we’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute. One of my favorite things he had to say was the line I used in the title of this post, “We gotta whole lotta gangstas in the locker-room.” When coach Chris Mack was asked by a reporter for his take on the ‘gangsta’ comments, he, in my opinion dismissed the criticism by saying that they may not always represent themselves in the best way. Why, in God’s name, would you put them in front of the press if you felt that way?!?! When you put them up there, they are no longer just representing themselves poorly, they are representing the University poorly, and, to a larger extent, the NCAA.
I have been in a rage since I saw that press conference. The fight was one thing — deplorable is the only word that comes to mind — but that press conference made it even worse, and when I thought it couldn’t get worse, coach Chris Mack not coming out and flatly condemning the statements made by his ball players in the press conference really was the cherry on top.
This, for me illustrates a couple of things I’ve been talking about lately: Obviously it illustrates the lack of discipline among players (of all sports), but it also illustrates the utter impotence of coaches when it comes to dealing with discipline — some of it imposed upon them, and some of it self-imposed.
Look at the NFL, specifically at the Detroit Lions, and some of the problems we’ve seen with those guys on the field recently. A Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving!), Ndamukong Suh stomping incident, a coach vs. coach post-game shoving and screaming match, an incident where a referee was shoved in a game where the Lions were flagged 11 times for a total of 107 yds of penalties. Is this how we measure conduct in the top tier of professional athletics?
The Lions are yet another example not simply of loss of control by the coaches, but them fostering an environment that seems to encourage this type of behavior. The NFL must compel the ownership to step in at this point and impose punishment with some teeth. If I want to see this kind of stuff, I can tune into any number of mixed martial arts tournaments that are aired throughout the week, but don’t give me this crap during an NFL game.
If we condone this kind of behavior in the professional ranks, why would we be surprised to see it rear its head in collegiate athletics? Tu Holloway’s comments that, “we are a bunch of grown men over here” could not be further off the mark. It is the very fact that these over-sized children have not been turned into, nor have ever been asked — let alone, told — to grow-up that is the problem. This is a real problem, and when we excuse this behavior as, I’ll assume, it has been for much of Tu’s life, how or why should we ever expect it to get better?
The answer to this question is really pretty easy in my mind: eliminate his scholarship. If it were handled this way, do you think there would be another fight in Xavier and Cincinnati’s cross town rivalry the next time they met? I don’t think so. It is easier to deal with these kinds of discipline issues at the collegiate level than at the professional level and I think that if you dealt with it firmly at the collegiate level, you wouldn’t have to deal with it at the professional level nearly so often.
Xavier should be ashamed. Sure, they suspended a few guys for a variable number of games — gotta’ get ‘em in before conference basketball starts — and Tu Holloway who may not have thrown an actual fist, but who may have delivered the biggest blow with what he said was suspended for a mere 1 game. Great message to send to aspirant high school ball players around the country: If you wanna be a gangsta, go to Xavier. To their credit, Cincinnati who may have been more at fault for the physical altercation, did not say anything stupid after the game and suspended 3 players for 6 games, however I feel this punishment did not go far enough.
The scholarship is the ultimate leverage against a collegiate athlete, and it should be treated as such. It is a privilege that, in my mind elevates their behavior putting them against an even higher standard, and when you simply wag your finger at their transgressions, you hold them to no standard at all. It is time to deal with these problems now rather than later. If the purpose of college is to prepare young men and women for the professional world, whether that be in sports or otherwise, a message must be sent that this kind of behavior is not tolerated in any other professional environment, and it will not be tolerated here.
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Filed under: Events, Sports Commentary | Tagged: college basketball, detroit lions, ncaa basketball, ndamukong suh, nfl football, university of cincinnati, xavier university | Leave a Comment »