When the word "brawl" gets thrown around in sports, it's usually describing a couple hockey players tugging on each-other's jerseys or two baseball teams doing more dancing than punching after the benches empty.
Folks, those are mere tiffs. This is a brawl.
A basketball game between NAIA schools Indiana University Southeast and Berea College was called off on Thursday night after a melee erupted during the first half involving players and fans from both rival teams.
Eleven players from both teams received one-game suspensions, six from IU Southeast and five from Berea. The game will not be replayed and none of the statistics will count toward season totals.
What incited the fracas appears to be a hard screen set by a Berea player as his team was bringing the ball up court. IU Southeast players then rush to defend their fallen teammate and confront the opposing player, the pushing and shoving soon escalating to wild swings and gym-wide mayhem reminiscent of the NBA's infamous "Malice at the Palace" game five years ago.
"It's a lifelong lesson for these young men," IU Southeast coach Wiley Brown told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "They made a mistake. It's a bad mistake. But I know they're going to learn from this. Long after they've left basketball and left me, they're going to think back to this and make the right decision."
Hard to believe that the penalties weren't more severe for both teams considering the precedent of Ron Artest's 73-game suspension, but apparently the commissioner of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is no iron-willed David Stern.
As a result of the suspensions, IU Southeast picked up seven walk-ons to avoid forfeiting its regular-season finale on Saturday. Berea will have to play without its five suspended players on Tuesday night in the first-round game of the KIAC Tournament.
"It's unfortunate for both teams," Berea coach John Mills told the Richmond Register. "I hate it."
For those sadists out there who are no doubt asking the question, yes, it's possible IU Southeast and Berea could play again this season. The two teams are seeded first and third respectively in the KIAC Tournament, so they could meet in the championship game on Saturday night.