Fans in Tuscaloosa Thursday night (January 22) went to a boxing bout and a women’s basketball game broke out.
Late in the first half of a heated battle between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Auburn’s Hasina Muhammed and Alabama’s Breana Hayden got tied up under the Tiger basket after a free throw. As Hayden extricated herself she drew back and slugged Muhammed in the jaw.
Stunned and angry, Muhammed pursued a fleeing Hayden toward the Tide bench and then as players and referees attempted to pull her away, she got in a glancing blow of her own. At that point, Alabama’s Meoshonti Knight began flinging fists of her own.
Auburn players rushed the the scrum, quickly surrounded and removed Muhammed and the brawl was extinguished.
Hayden threw the first punch to incite the fracas. She was ejected. Knight who jumped on Muhammed’s back, yanked on her jersey and sucker punched her from behind was also tossed from the game. Muhammed was also ejected for retaliating after Hayden’s initial swing.
At least that’s what anyone who watched the video of the melee saw.
If you rely on our friends at al.com for the story, you got a slightly different spin. The unofficial press agents for the University of Alabama used images and wording to cast the incident in another light.
The incident generated a 20-photo slideshow featured prominently on the front page of the website that provides content from the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times.
The first photo, the one everyone who opens the site sees?
Of the 20 photos in the slideshow, 16 show Muhammed pursuing Hayden, Muhammed at the Alabama bench, Muhammed leaving the court after the ejection or Auburn players reacting in the aftermath. Only four if the 16 (and none of the first dozen images) show Alabama players negatively engaged in the incident.
Amazingly, although there are countless photos of Muhammed’s reaction, there’s not a single photo of Hayden launching the first blow.
The difference in composition of the photos as well as the differing tone of the captions is interesting.
Here’s Alabama “regaining composure.”
Meanwhile, here’s Auburn “embracing” the fighter.
There are photos of Auburn players “dragging” Muhammed from the fight and more, but why belabor the point.
Sadly al.com wasn’t alone in perpetuating the myth of Auburn aggression.
This is how a tweet from ‘Alabama’s Home Team’ WVUA, a campus news organization characterize the incident:
BREAKING: Auburn basketball player Hasina Muhammad attacks Alabama’s Breanna Hayden during the game. Video of the incident to come shortly.
We expect that from the campus television station. We understand that they are required to be blatant and unapologetic homers.
That same slanted attitude repeatedly being displayed by al.com, however, grows tiresome.