Sports Imitates Life in Miami – Thuggery on the Field of Play

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: October 17, 2006

Sports Imitates Life in Miami – Thuggery on the Field of Play

NEW YORK – Some people may say, “I went to a football game and a hockey game broke out.” Just in case you were in a Rip Van Winkle state this past Saturday and missed either the game or the ensuing lowlights of the ugly brawl at the Orange Bowl between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International University Golden Panthers; you didn’t miss anything.

The fiasco which happened in the third quarter makes one think about the malice at the Palace of Auburn Hills, (home of the Detroit Pistons) in December of 2004. This incident however was a few decimals higher on the Richter scale. There were fists flying, feet stomping on opposing player’s bodies while they lay on the ground and helmets being used as a weapon. This was straight up gang-fight style brawling. One member of Florida International was seen trying to Barry Bonds someone with his crutches. And all of this captured before a television audience and in front of thousands of fans watching the game.

One ironic twist to it all was that the Dade County Police department had a, “Join a Team, Not a Gang Day” crusade that day; so those youngsters got the chance to see pure thuggery played out up close and personal on the field of play.

Never mind the fact Miami went on to win the game after the fracas that lasted nearly five minutes, 35-0 extending Florida International’s winless streak to seven games. Both teams came out losers. For one, Miami’s head coach, Larry Coker who was under fire even before this episode happened must feel like he’s sitting on a red hot branding right about now; and rightfully so. His program is veering out of control on several fronts.

There’s plenty of blame and finger pointing to go around. Sure, the players involved should all be either suspended indefinitely if not permanently. But, the real problem is the core of recruiting and the practice of having a farm system of football players enrolled in school that have no business on a college campus. U of M had recruited and gained acceptance to the ultra talented linebacker, Willie Williams who was credited with having been arrested 13 times. He has since left the school. But, that goes to show that winning football games have no boundaries; the heck with social development.

Too many of these players especially down in the more depressed areas of Florida are coming from the school of hard knocks and are not shown or given proper guidance on life and how to maintain or of what’s ahead after football. Case in point after the fight the team rallied around together jumping in victory as if they accomplished something positive.

What the University of Miami should do if they really care for the individuals that they recruit is to start being pro-active on the elementary school level. After all, between the two combative schools, 90% of the players are from the state of Florida; with 70% from the southern region of Florida. That goes to show and it’s well documented, the U of M has a major influence.

So why not do it the right way. With all the money that is generated or has been generated from the football team (past and present) do things with college students (that are heavy into academia) going into elementary schools and sharing what it is like to be a college student. The students can lend experiences about student like and give them a barometer of what to look for as they represent the University of Miami on different levels.

With the way society is now with the differences between the haves and have nots spreading now more than ever, the University of Miami would be smart to embrace the topic of rehabilitating a community. Afterall, the self same fifth and sixth graders now just may be representing your football program in less than seven years.