Southern coach Sandy Pugh put it best: “I've been involved with basketball for 30-plus years and I've never seen anything like this. It's an embarrassment.”
A word like embarrassment doesn’t begin to honestly spin what the Southern-Texas Southern women’s basketball game was Saturday night in the Southwest Athletic Conference. Don’t dismiss the most salient words here: women’s basketball game.
Not that the brawl the women’s teams waged would have been forgivable had it happened in a men’s game; it would not have been. We’ve heard and seen men go Mike Tyson on the basketball court before.
But two women’s teams?
According to media reports, Miracle Davis, one of the Texas Southern players, took a hard charge, and from there, well … players, cheerleaders and fans turned the game into “basketbrawl.” It had to be more than the charge that led to security racing in to cool the hellish temperatures, but when emotions are stoked like a blast furnace, there's not much security can do.
The last thing women’s basketball needed was an embarrassment of this kind. With men’s and women’s teams everywhere heading this week into their conference tournaments, people should be talking about the quality of basketball play and not a woman’s right hook.
In this game, the two teams were fighting for the No. 1 seed in the SWAC tournament. Quickly, league officials ruled the game a double forfeit, which meant it didn’t benefit either team.
Now, the basketball is in their hands once again. What more are league officials planning to do about the brawl? They can’t possibly think, not in their craziest of dreams, that ruling the game a forfeit resolves the matter, for it doesn’t.
We can’t have sports teams, their players and their fans going renegade on the court – or off it. Fights in sports hurt the image of sportsmanship, and they teach fans that games have more importance than they do. No conference should allow such a lesson to remain on its syllabus.
The brawl is too fresh for the SWAC to rule decisively, but it has no choice but to. Whether conference lords believe in sending signals or not, they need to send one that is unmistakable, firm, unyielding and harsh.
Both Southern and Texas Southern, despite being the top teams in the SWAC, should be barred from the conference tournament. The players involved, if they have eligibility left, should sit out one-third of the 2015-16 season.
Pugh and Texas Southern coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry should be reprimanded for the undisciplined behavior of their players. The SWAC should suspend them both for a handful of games next season, and Pugh should sit more games than Hayes-Perry.
At Southern, unruly play isn’t new. According to The Baton Rouge Advocate, the university had an on-court incident against Alabama A&M late last month.
All of this is to say that something stern needs to happen to the two teams, and whatever punishment the SWAC – or even the NCAA – hands down must tell basketball players this: Players who want to fight should join the world of mixed martial arts, because they won’t have much of a future in college hoops if they prefer trading blows to trading baskets.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Southern University via Instagram, Texas Southern University via Twitter)
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