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Lambert's media attention for all the wrong reasons

Imagine the day that a Mountain West Conference women’s soccer semifinal match would get so much national media attention.

But there it was: Early Friday morning and ESPN was giving the story ofwhat happened between New Mexico and No. 17 Brigham Young University quite a bit of air time. Well, part of the story anyway.

Junior defender Elizabeth Lambert stole the show for her excessively violent actions against several BYU players.  Lambert was caught on video throwing punches and even yanking a young woman’s ponytail violently.

For her actions Lambert has been suspended indefinitely and will not be able to take part in any team practices, competition or conditioning activities.

In a statement on the school’s athletic website, www.golobos.com, Lambert said the following:

“I am deeply and wholeheartedly regretful for my actions.  My actions were uncalled for. I let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation. I take full responsibility for my actions and accept any punishment felt necessary from the coaching staff and UNM administration. This is in no way indicative of my character or the soccer player that I am. I am sorry to my coaches and teammates for any and all damages I have brought upon them. I am especially sorry to BYU and the BYU women’s soccer players that were personally affected by my actions. I have the utmost respect for the BYU women’s soccer program and its players.”

There are so many things wrong with the situation that it is tough to even pick a starting point.

First and foremost need to be the actions of Lambert, which were beyond any type of anger or action that comes with an adrenaline rush.

Granted, the situation seemed to begin when BYU freshman forward Carlee Payne threwan elbow into Lambert’s chest, but the ensuing punches, hair pulls and dirty tackles are completely disgraceful.

What’s more disgraceful might be the punishment if it is not extended. As a Mountain West Conference semifinalist, New Mexico may not be lucky enough to get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament, effectively ending the Lobos’ season.

Lambert needs to be suspended for a significant portion of next seasonbased on her malicious actions in Thursday’s semifinal.  It is a miracle that nobody on BYU was hurt, and if Lambert (or anyone, for that matter) is allowed to get away with such actions there could be many injuries to come in the future.

Surely very few people follow New Mexico women’s soccer, but it is very clear just from a short highlight clip that Lambert is a thug on the field.  Issuing a simple apology statement and essentially being suspended from training is not enough punishment for a woman whocould have seriously injured several opponents.

If this was college football, the crackdown would surely be swift and lengthy, appeasing the media and the public more so than anyone.  Right now, the suspension is indefinite, making it too early to judge.

But if Lambert is lining up on the field in New Mexico’s opening game next year, it will surely say a lot about the character of that program.  Only time can tell on that, though.

The second major problem with the situation is the way the media covered it.  As seen from the YouTube clip of the highlights shown on SportsCenter, 88 seconds were dedicated to this story, which is a good chunk in SportsCenter time.

Almost all of that was dedicated to the Lambert situation, with little focus on the game that actually happened and no focus on any other tournaments around the country.

The Big 12, Big East and ACC, among others, are all playing out to be incredibly dramatic tournaments with some of the top teams competing for a ticket to the tournament and a conference title.  Even the Mountain West Conference is something to keep an eye out with a championship showdown between BYU and San Diego State on Saturday.

Yet collegiatewomen’s soccer was boiled down to 88 seconds of scrappy girl fights inthe semifinal match of a mid-major conference.
In just under a month, a champion will be crowned at the College Cup in College Station, Texas.  Will that game even get 88 seconds of air timeon SportsCenter, or attention across almost every major news outlet like this did?  Doubtful.  Well, maybe if there is some hair pulling.

As far as actually watching the games this weekend, there is a lot of great action taking place.  It’s championship weekend across all conferences as the NCAA will pick its 64 team field on Monday.  Perhaps the biggest matchup is in the ACC, where No. 5 North Carolina will take on No. 6 Florida State in the championship on Sunday.

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