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I am a diehard University of Kentucky basketball fan.
I graduated from the school nearly 10 years ago, and like most that bleed blue, I am utterly crushed with any and every loss the Wildcats suffer.
Don’t even bring up the last-second loss to the Hoosiers or I may literally throw up in front of you.
Even though my passion is for UK, it was nearly impossible to escape the madness that happened at the Crosstown Shootout last weekend between Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati.
Living only minutes away from both colleges, I know how bitter the rivalry between the Musketeers and Bearcats is, but what occurred in their latest clash was an utter disgrace.
Now, I must admit I may have a little more favoritism toward Xavier because I have relatives who love Cincinnati.
It is a time-honored tradition at family gatherings to ridicule their under-achieving teams while us UK fans bask in the glory of our amazing team.
However, there is enough blame to be shared among both universities, the referees and probably even the fans at the game.
The refs let the game get out of hand long before the punches were thrown.
If technical fouls would have been assessed after the constant trash talking, primarily by XU, then perhaps things would not have escalated.
Despite that, the pure hatred and barbaric nature of the melee was ridiculous.
It was like several of the players simply lost their minds and did not care who they hurt, who was watching or what consequences their actions would bring.
In particular, UC’s Yancy Gates, who first threw a ball at a Xavier player’s face before going on to sucker punch not one, but two Muskies, looked like a rabid animal aimed at killing anyone in a white jersey.
Another Bearcat stomped on Xavier forward Kenny Frease while he was on the ground from one of Gates’ punches.
The post-game press conference should have not included any comments from players still riled up from the incident.
Instead, XU star Tu Holloway made himself and his team look ignorant by explaining that Xavier had some “gangsters” on their team and a fight is to be expected between the crosstown rivals.
He has since altered his comments, but he still made himself look foolish when he should have kept his mouth shut.
While UC’s coach, Mick Cronin, was lauded for his tough guy stance after the game, including physically taking off some of his players’ jerseys because they did not deserve to wear them, his reputation dropped when suspensions were announced.
I strongly believe Gates should have been suspended for the entire season, and as a senior, his college career would likely be over.
However, he was told he had to sit out just six games, four of which are against far inferior opponents.
What a joke.
By giving such a soft penalty, the coach and university make the brawl seem minor.
They are more about saving their season then sending a message that actions like this will not be tolerated and have no place in the game of basketball.
If I was a fan of Xavier or UC, I would be embarrassed.
Even as a UK fanatic, I was embarrassed to have to try to explain to my 4-year-old son why grown men were trying to beat each other to a pulp while playing a game that is, while competitive, supposed to be fun.
Although the word “idiot” is a bad word in our house, I decided to tell my son that they were fighting because they were idiots.
Really, there was no other explanation.
(Bryan Marshall is the staff writer for the Grant County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)