An incident that did not receive as much response as it should have came in late 2011 when a Xavier-Cincinnati basketball game ended with an ugly bench-clearing brawl, leaving one young man lying on the floor with blood gushing from his left eye.
“We got disrespected a little bit before the game,” said Tu Holloway, the All-American point guard for Xavier. “Guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room—not thugs, but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game. That’s our motto: We zip them up. That’s what we just did to them.”
When only 15 seconds remained in the game, Holloway was seen speaking to a player on the Cincinnati bench while he was going back to the defensive side of the court. Freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn was guarding Holloway, and that was when the exchange began to heat up. That was when Guyn shoved Holloway in the face with his hand.
There was 9.4 seconds left to play when all hell broke loose. Xavier Dez Wells intervened to push Guyn down. It didn’t take longer than a second for the benches on both sides to clear.
Xavier center Kenny Frease tried to play peacemaker, but ended up having to crawl out of the brawl on his hands and knees with a bloody and blackened eye. He was kicked several times when he was on the floor but suffered no life-threatening injuries.
When Holloway was asked what he said to the Cincinnati bench prior to the fight, he said, “I was just saying, ‘It’s my city right here.’ I’m cut from a different cloth. None of those guys on that team are like me. I felt disrespected for those guys to come down and talk like that, so I let their whole staff over there know, I let all the players know. That’s when it started.”
Yancy Gates, the senior Cincinnati player who hit Frease to the ground, was suspended for six games. Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj were also suspended for six games, Guyn for one.
Xavier junior guard Mark Lyons was suspended for two games and Holloway for one. Dezmine Wells and Landen Amos were suspended for four games.
Holloway and Lyons made a formal apology during a news conference, but exacerbated the situation by referring to his team as “gangsters.” However, Holloway did deny being associated with “thugs.”
Nevertheless, the men were given leeway—a second chance.
The video of the brawl received thousands of views on YouTube within several months, but that does not compare to the millions of views the video of Elizabeth Lambert’s dirty play against BYU received.
The video of Elizabeth Lambert’s game against BYU was aired on national television. It received much more coverage, and the reaction was much different. Within days after the UNM v. BYU match, the internet had already sexually branded her as “hot” and “nasty.” She was referred to as the b-word, an “[expletive] manic” and the “dirtiest player in the world.”
One CBS News headline read “Elizabeth Lambert video: Attractive, Aggressive, Suspended… Victim?” Did CBS News refer to the Xavier and Cincinnati men as attractive? No.
Other comments completely belittled Lambert. Some viewers concluded that she was either on steroids or her menstrual cycle.
The inappropriate remarks that some women athletes receive trivialize women’s sports and their accomplishments. This is a major concern because some responses that incidents, such as the one Lambert was involved in, receive objectify women and portray them as entertainment for men.
One blog called FrigginRandom read: “Everyone loves a good cat fight…wait let me rephrase that…every ‘man’ loves a good cat fight.” This resembles many of the comments that followed the ESPN video of Elizabeth Lambert’s unsportsmanlike play.
The comments that Lambert received and the way the media portrayed the young soccer star will forever taint her reputation, and make it much more difficult for her to repair her image.
Another incident that involved Hope Solo challenged the double standards between men and women even further, questioning not only appropriate conduct but morals and team ethics as well.
Right before the semifinal of the 2007 World Cup, USA head coach Greg Ryan benched Solo for Briana Scurry, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion. The U.S. lost to Brazil 4-0.
“It was the wrong the decision, and I think anybody who knows anything about the game knows that,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. And the fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore. … It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago.”
Solo violated the ethics of team sports by criticizing a teammate in public, although that was not her intention. Her teammates and coach reacted by shunning her from the team, not evening allowing Solo to travel home on the same flight. However, would she have been punished as severely if she was a man?
“Would we even have batted an eyelash if it was David Beckham?” said Aimee Mullins, a former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Incidents that involve unsportsmanlike conduct from women athletes tend to be met with criticism and receive much more media coverage than incidents that involve men. However, this should not be the case because unsportsmanlike conduct should not occur in either men or women’s sports. It should not be a question of gender stereotypes but of professional behavior.