THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
In my days of being a professor and being in charge of athletic bands, one of the more unfortunate sights was attending a women's basketball game at home during the regular season. It was unfortunate because the crowds were never that large, and thus, the level of excitement was lacking.
Now, I've gone on record as having problems with collegiate athletics, the NCAA, and many similar things, and I stand by those comments. That being said, with the love our country has for college basketball, it was sad that only the men got the fans. Some of the most entertaining games I attended were women's games. And if you take the college aspect out of it, it would have been nice to see more support for the ladies in any form. It shouldn't be a gender issue.
But then, incidents like the one between UNLV and Utah State in early January occur, and you see that other parts of the country do take women's college basketball seriously...perhaps too seriously.
During the game in question, a fight broke out between two players that led to eight total ejections. It was during the third quarter when UNLV's Katie Powell and Utah State's Antoina Robinson got into it. Not only were those two ejected, but three other members from each team were ejected for leaving the bench, totalling four ejections per team.
According to the post-game interviews, Powell went on record claiming that Robinson was playing dirty all game. When one of Powell's teammates was fouled, she had finally decided to tell Robinson to tone it down, which led to Robinson instigating the fight. If you get a chance, watch the video since it tells it all.
I'm not making excuses for any of the ejected players, but there are a few things to take from this fight...
First, unless there was something else unreported, this fight is clearly Robinson's fault. I don't know this lady, but the fact that she would play dirty, then follow up with a fight shows what type of character she has. She should be ashamed of herself.
That's not to excuse Powell, who probably could have handled things better. But if you are looking to dissect the incident, place the blame on Robinson, not Powell.
Further, it's tough to criticize the ejected players for leaving the bench. UNLV coach Kathy Olivier said it best post-game when she said she never taught her players not to leave the bench in such incidents because she thought they simply wouldn't occur. Olivier took blame for that, but she should be lauded. To accept the responsibility of something that should have been a non-factor is admirable; to hope that these situations would never arise is worthy of a tip-of-the-cap for optimism. I'm sure there is an ensuing counterargument that says Olivier should have taught this to her players, but the big picture says otherwise.
Finally, the big goat in all of this is Utah State. In researching the incident, UNLV made their players and coach available for comment regarding the incident. UNLV's web site (for their women's basketball team) even included the unfortunate incident in their game wrap-up. In short, they didn't hide from it.
Utah State, however, did.
There was no mention of any interview with any Utah State personnel. What's worse is that Utah State's corresponding web site did not even remotely infer the incident occurred in their story about the game. It was as if it never happened.
Journalistic failure? Or embarrassed school? You decide.