I began today's column as a rant about the stupidity of the Xavier versus Cincinnati basketball game that ended in a brawl, but something happened Monday evening that requires an explanation on my part.

If you just want my thoughts on the brawl, jump to the bottom of the column.


As some Pilot readers know, one of our BHHS basketball players was recently diagnosed with cancer. He has had surgery to remove the tumor and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

The tumor was successfully removed and the survival rate for the cancer he has is extremely high compared to other forms of cancer, but his chemo is making him bald.

While I was at the end of the boys' practice on Monday, one of the coaches produced a hair trimmer and offered to cut the hair of any team member who wished to show solidarity with their teammate and shave his head.

A number of his teammates took the coach up on the offer and the player himself challenged me to shave my head as well.

I had to leave practice to meet with my family and go caroling, but I told him that I would support him by shaving my head afterward.

So, here I am, bald and shivering just a bit from the cold air running over my scalp.

Some may question why we would shave our heads. I know I have a beautiful head of hair and it's a shame to shave it off andndash; at least that's what my wife tells me.

We shaved our heads because we only get this life's chance to show support for people we care about.

There are certain things that come few and far between, and I believe it would be a travesty to not participate in them when I have the opportunity, and am invited.

I know my hair will grow back; that's what happens. But my opportunity to support a friend with something tangible is only going to come rarely, and I'm grabbing it with both hands.


Back to my rant on the idiot college basketball players. 

I'm not finding the brawl itself befuddling andndash; it happens, people lose control of their emotions and lash out andndash; what I find mind blowing is Yancy Gates only got a six-game suspension for throwing a punch.

What is Cincinnati's administration thinking? Former University of Oregon footballer LeGarrett Blount got an eight-game suspension for the punch he threw at midfield following the 2009 game against Boise State University.

Eight games in football cost him the rest of his final season with the Ducks and the chance to be drafted that year.

Six games for Gates is mild in comparison. And while I can understand a punch being thrown without condoning the violence, I can't pardon Cincinnati's Cheikh Mbodj kicking a man while he was down.

Anyone who threw a punch, or lashed out with a kick, should be done for the season. Period. Anyone who left the bench and pushed or shoved should be handed at least a six-game suspension.

The administrations at each of the schools need to teach a lesson that violence on the court will not be tolerated. They need to meet out the punishment, and it needs to be swift and decisive.

There is a fine line between aggression and violence in sports, and while the former is grudgingly accepted on the court in the form of hard fouls and an extra hip thrust when setting a screen, the later is completely unacceptable.