It doesn’t exist in football anymore, nor does it exist in baseball or any professional sports (see: Aaron, Hank). It doesn’t exist in hockey (though we’d love to see that). And it definitely doesn’t exist in the civilian world. Wanna see what that’d look like?
To the extent that it’s an undeniably awesome opportunity to celebrate with your team, it’s just as much a recipe for complete disaster — as evident by New Mexico State’s upset loss to Utah Valley. In case you missed it, an NMSU player hucked the ball at a player on the opposing team as the buzzer sounded, a unacceptable move no doubt prompted by frustration and anger, which lead to a skirmish between another NMSU player and some UVS players/fans. No one “wants” to see fights (at least not in good conscience), but they’re an inevitable part of the sports we love.
What no one wants to experience, however, is being punched by a world-class athlete: Something made 200,000,000 times more likely when an army of drunk-ish frat boys with nothing to lose rush onto the playing field to rub it in.
Is rushing the court a crime of passion or a well coordinated breach of the fourth wall for thrill seekers? Hey, either way — unless everyone running out there is a unabashed pacifist — it’s a terrible idea that really has no place in athletics of any level. Because as the old saying goes, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole bunch.
A few angry, bored, borderline socipathic apples, looking for some action on live television.
Look at this way: Would storming the court make sense in a playground game? Of course not (for obvious reasons). People hate having their failures exacerbated by throngs of frenzied onlookers — so why do we subject the youngest, most underdeveloped, immature athletes to such humiliation? Tradition? C’mon.
In that sense, storming the court makes more sense in the professional ranks, seeing as the players are paid handsomely to conduct themselves in a dignified way. When college basketball players on a losing team are confronted by legions of their rabid peers after a tough outing, why wouldn’t they take a swing? Let’s turn the tables and assume the NMSU basketball team stormed the dorm room of a Utah Valley student in celebration because he/she failed a mid-term. Would we be cool with that?
Factor in the additional reality that college sports fandom is this country’s equivalent of hooliganism, and it’s even more apparent why spectators should be kept in the stands (where they belong, believe it or not). In Europe, ruckus soccer fans are treated like disobedient children. In America, disobedient children are treated as participants. Reality check: It’s 2014, get the kids off the court.
[Cowboys Ride For Free] “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach, you’re a [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.”
— Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski
We’re afraid this practice, despite seeming like the most fun moment one could experience at a sporting event, needs to go the way of “tearing down the upright” — a tradition that waited until someone was seriously injured before it was seriously reevaluated. When it comes to storming the court, the chance of injuries and violence also extend to players, which makes it even worse (as they had no choice but to be there). The NCAA should think about adopting the SEC’s policy of fining schools for allowing such potentially dangerous situations to take place, before something happens that makes this NMSU-Utah Valley State incident look tame.
Or we could just wait until it gets to that point. Your call, college basketball. Sound off below…