The tradition of storming the court is one of the most exciting experiences a student can have in college. Whether after a major upset, defeating an arch rival, or winning a championship, rushing out to celebrate with the team is likely something you’ll never forget. Lost in the frenzied excitement is the reality that disaster is only seconds away. Lately conferences around the country have been talking about putting an end to it.
Earlier this week the SEC announced plans to levy stiff penalties against universities if fans rush the field/storm the court, and on Wednesday the Big 12 announced they will likely follow suit. Penalties could include a fine, and even the potential loss of home games.
“We are certainly most interested in the safety of our participants and would include home team, visiting team, officials, table crew and the like,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “And we have pretty good video evidence of all our big events so we can review them.”
“I have a full array available to me and the staff. I don’t know that there’s anything off the table in dealing with those issues. I think I’ve been given broad prerogatives to deal with those issues and the tools necessary to manage it.”
While the rule would pertain to football as well, the issue has been a hot topic on the hardwood. In 2014 fans rushing the court ended up getting into a brawl as an opposing player chucked a ball in frustration as the buzzer sounded.
The problem is not enough is being done to protect players, coaches, and even officials from the swarm of frenzied, and possibly drunken, students. Several of the nation’s top coaches have expressed their frustration with the tradition inlcuding Kansas Coach Bill Self. Last season he took issue with Kansas State fans after one of his players was hit by a student while trying to get off the court.
“It’s a ballgame. It’s not about chickenwinging somebody when the game’s over, stuff like that.”, Self said after the game. “That’s not what it’s about. Hopefully they can get that corrected, because it’s fine if you want to celebrate when you beat us. That’s your business. That’s fine. But at least it shouldn’t put anybody at risk from a safety standpoint, because we’re asking for big problems.”
Just because something is tradition doesn’t make it a good reason to continue the practice. I don’t know if it needs to go away completely, but there definitely needs to be more done to protect the visiting teams. Exact punishments haven’t been determined just yet, but the onus is clearly on the universities to do more.