Crosstown Shootout: Are We Overreacting?

Every year in Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University meet in a game called The Crosstown Shootout. Sometimes, things get our of hand. Not long after I arrived in town, X coach Pete Gillen refused to shake UC coach Bob Huggins’ hand. Coaches at both schools have told tales of getting flipped the bird by rival fans as they drove around town.

This past weekend, the two teams got into a brawl. It was all from trash talk in the final minutes as Xavier trounced UC 76-53. Eight players on both teams were suspended for up to six games, more than the single game suspensions handed down from the NCAA.

In our era of manufactured outrage, fake crises, and a need to do something, dammit, when dammit might actually be counterproductive, there’s a criminal investigation along with calls to cancel the annual game.

Cincinnati, chill out.

First off, both teams are voluntarily taking a major hit by benching their best players only a couple of weeks before conference play begins in earnest. Yes, colleges, never the most rational institutions about handling student athletes, are actually teaching these kids that there are consequences to their actions. And they hurt when you do something stupid. But a criminal investigation?

One gent phoned into WXIX and suggested that, had this been on the streets, all those participating would be arrested, so why not the players? Fair point. Only, it doesn’t always happen that way.  Actually, as often as not, police will break up a fight and send the brawlers on the merry way, most likely to arrest them later for DUI. A brawl at a game is in a controlled environment. Occasionally, fans are involved (at which point, so are police), but when it’s between players, the various sports leagues handle it.

Or don’t.

I have to applaud the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University for hitting their players where it hurts. Basketball is why these kids are at these schools, and the suspensions could jeopardize their scholarships. Instead of whining about how athletes are coddled, let’s ask why pro athletes are so pampered. Were I a team owner, I would tell the likes of Chad Ochocinco, “I pay you how much? For that money, you forfeit your ego. Now get your lazy ass into voluntary camp before your next team is the night shift at Taco Bell!” If a pro athlete breaks the rules, he should not have the option of negotiation nor should he be allowed to work when most people would go to jail. Members of Congress aren’t this pampered, and look what they get away with.

As for those who want to cancel the Crosstown Shootout because it’s too violent, may I ask if you’d like a nipple with your coffee? Really? One brawl ruins the whole thing? Seriously? To call that stupid is an insult to morons’ intelligence. Bad things happen. What are the chances of another brawl next year?

Slim, meet none. None, slim.

But why cancel it? Chances are the same people crying that it should not be allowed to happen again go to Cincinnati Cyclones games waiting for a fight to break out. Sorry, pro sports is not a legitimate excuse.

Stop whining. A very bad thing happened, but last time I checked, no one died. No buildings fell. America is not going to war over it.

And as for that annoying little chestnut “What do I tell my kids?”, try telling them the truth and quit expecting everyone else to walk on eggshells for you. Here’s a way to start.

“Junior, some people are assholes. And some of them get sports scholarships. Life’s not always fair. But then 8 players got benched, so sometimes it is. Sorry life isn’t all that simple.”