Chinese Government Mad at Basketball Team for Fighting With Georgetown

by August 19, 2011

While many of us were entertained by footage of the wild scuffle between Georgetown University and the Bayi Rockets yesterday, the Chinese Communist Party didn’t take the incident so lightly. From the NY Times: “[Even] if Beijing has come to believe that gold medals are lovelier than bronze, senior leaders here are clearly displeased that players from its most popular men’s basketball team got into an ugly, full-court brawl Thursday night with the Georgetown University Hoyas. It does not help that the melee took place on the second day of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first official visit to China. The violence, captured by amateur video cameras and broadcast around the world, occurred during the final minutes of a ‘good-will’ match between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets, a team whose members are drawn from the People’s Liberation Army. In the video, a Rockets player can be seen ramming guard Aaron Bowen through a partition and pounding on him with fists as he sat on his chest. Before the Georgetown coach pulled his men off the floor and called the game quits, Chinese players and spectators threw punches, folding chairs and full bottles of water. With that, the match officially ended in a tie, 64-64. But even as members of both teams met Friday morning at a Beijing hotel to make peace, the country’s propaganda maestros were trying to ensure that the brouhaha did not find its way into the national psyche. Censors quickly deleted videos and chat room comments, although by evening, the restrictions appeared to be easing. In a country prone to nationalistic sentiment, most microblog remarks were surprisingly critical of the home team, a once-reliable champion that has in recent years fallen off its pedestal after losing some of its best players to retirement. … By Friday afternoon, many of the players seemed to agree. After flying to Shanghai members of the Hoyas and the Rockets shared the lobby of the Portman Ritz Carlton without any palpable tension. Asked about the incident, one Georgetown player shrugged off the contretemps. ‘Man, it’s just a game,’ he said.”