This video showing University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert flinging an opponent to the ground by her ponytail has been getting a lot of exposure since Thursday's Mountain West Conference semifinal playoff game, in which Lambert's team lost to Brigham Young University.
Lambert has since been suspended from the team indefinitely and has apologized for her actions. What has been intriguing is the amount of attention this video has received, as if we are still capable of being shocked that women can behave every bit as badly as men at times. We've seen plenty of cheap shots bordering on the felonious in the NFL and NHL, but those don't usually involve ponytails.
I have to believe it's an almost prurient interest in watching a "cat fight" that has garnered the Lambert video so much attention. Some newscasters I saw even used that term, giggling as they introduced it. Would they have laughed had Lambert's victim suffered a spinal injury? I see no humor in the situation, neither for those directly involved, nor for those who watched it.
Unbelievably, reaction on the Internet to the video has been mixed. Many of those commenting on Web sites that posted it have been supportive of Lambert, saying that she only retaliated after a Brigham Young player threw an elbow into her chest. Apparently they didn't see some of the other footage from the game, in which Lambert blatantly tripped, kicked and struck opponents with impunity.
I don't know whether Lambert will, or even should, be allowed to play again. While it might be tempting to forgive such behavior as a momentary lapse of judgment during an emotionally charged situation, this was not merely an overzealous act by Lambert in the course of play — it was a vicious assault.
We need only take notice of the frequent overlap between the sports and police news in our newspapers to realize that our sports-culture worship of "the big hit," our celebration of aggression on the field, sometimes comes with a hefty price off it. A thug in a uniform is still a thug.