Toina’s “bru-haha:” ESPN fails to tell both sides of USU-UNLV brawl


For a small school like Utah State University, an ESPN appearance is a big deal.

At the beginning of the season, women’s coach Jerry Finkbeiner saw a potential Top 10 SportsCenter highlight in senior Antoina Robinson’s dunking ability.

He wasn’t wrong that Robinson would bring the publicity, but I can imagine he didn’t intend for it to come the way it did Saturday night.

After a drive beneath the hoop from UNLV’s Brooke Johnson ended in a foul, Katie Powell was walking over to help her up when her shoulder happened to meet Robinson’s chest. Robinson’s hands then grabbed Powell’s shoulders — shoving and punching and all sorts of havoc ensued. Other players joined in to separate the two, but only one bench cleared — a fact that seemed to have been conveniently absent from the ESPN story. In watching the video, it’s clear the Rebels cleared their bench because the last one to leave is an injured player hobbling across the court on one leg. Utah State’s assistant coaches rushed to stop the fight while only one of the UNLV coaches attempted the same and the rest stood and watched from the sideline.

While we’re on the topic of conveniently misplaced facts of this story, let me address two more.

One more from the written version was the fact only UNLV athletes and coaches were cited. Not only does that make for half of a story, but it breaks a rule even kindergarten journalists know. You don’t color outside the lines, and you always get at least two sides to a story. Here we only saw one side.

Then, not to mention, the audio version of this story where the fight was referred to as a “bruhaha” which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “a fight or some kind of argument between more than just two people. This specific kind of fight is usually just verbal because when it’s physical, it becomes a bruhehe.”

I just want to know if there are any incidents when a men’s basketball game fight has been referred to as a “bruhaha” or if ever in men’s sports that term has been used.

Finkbeiner never intended for Robinson to be in the national spotlight for a scuffle like this, much less a “bruhaha.” But the least ESPN could have done was give the story fair coverage.

Four players were ejected from each team that night and, unfortunately, the Rebels finished that game on top.

Robinson was suspended for Wednesday night’s game and Utah State fought the initial ruling that no UNLV players would receive the same punishment and won.

I don’t know how or if it will affect the way the rest of the college basketball world sees our school, and I don’t really think that has a long-lasting effect or any effect at all on how the women’s basketball team will play, other than the one night without Robinson on the floor.

But I do think that this spotlight can be used to their advantage. If nothing else, the Spectrum is going to fill to the brim when UNLV comes to town at the end of February. That will be something for ESPN to write about.

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