Aren’t team sports supposed to provide a healthy outlet for aggressive tendencies?
It doesn’t seem to be working for at least some members of the Kansas University football and men’s basketball teams.
One KU basketball player was sent to the hospital for an injury that will keep him out of action for three to four weeks after an incident Tuesday evening involving basketball and football team members outside the Burge Union. A second apparent skirmish between members of the two teams was witnessed Wednesday morning near Budig and Wescoe Halls on Jayhawk Boulevard.
Also on Wednesday morning, Athletic Director Lew Perkins said he still was gathering facts on Tuesday’s incident but that the report was “something that I am taking very seriously.”
As he should.
It’s unclear what has sparked the tension between team members, but it needs to stop. Just as they must do on the field or on the court, these young athletes need to learn to control their emotions and stay out of trouble. If it takes some suspensions or other discipline to drive that point home, KU coaches Bill Self and Mark Mangino should take the appropriate action. It shouldn’t be viewed as a matter of “boys will be boys.”
It’s true that this kind of commotion gets more attention when the students involved are on university athletic teams. That’s fair. The athletes also get more attention on the field or on the court than the average KU student ever does for going to class or even achieving a measure of academic excellence.
These athletes represent the university and they need to behave accordingly. That means they need to grow up and quit rising to whatever bait their fellow KU athletes are dangling.
Wednesday afternoon, high profile players on both KU teams issued a statement saying they had “met and talked it out” and would “be in the stands rooting for each other like we always have.” Perhaps that will be the end of it. We hope so, but time will tell.
KU athletic officials have made a big deal out of how good it is for the university to have highly competitive teams in both football and basketball. Most KU fans would agree. However, KU coaches need to also make sure the contests these teams engage in are restricted to the playing field and to teams from opposing schools, and not waged against one another.