I get it.
I'm not gonna be the old man shaking his fist at "them crazy kids!"
Sports fandom makes fools of us all. Our excitement gets the best of us. Hell, back in 2012 I did a 180 dunk on an awning on Mass Street in Lawrence after the 'Hawks came back to beat Ohio State in the Final Four. I damn near ripped the thing loose from the building. All that built up tension during an important game; it makes us want to let it explode in a physical manner when the final buzzer sounds and our teams emerge victorious. I get all that.
Court rushing? When the moment warrants it I say rush on.
However, every time you beat a Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, or Carolina does not warrant a court storming. I'm sorry. It just doesn't. You're just making yourselves look like complete clowns. I can reconcile the excitement when the result of your victory produces a title or a tournament win, but when fans are storming the court to celebrate the fact that, for one night, their team excelled beyond their default setting of mediocrity, well, that's almost laughably sad. And worse, pointless.
Kansas State has 15 losses and their fans were acting like they'd just won the NCAA Title.
Back in 2012 when Mizzou beat Kansas in Columbia the Tigers were ranked higher than the Jayhawks and their fans still rushed the court and lost their minds. Seriously?
To Iowa State fans' credit, there was no rushing the court after beating Kansas earlier this season. Cyclones fans didn't rush the court, because that would have implied they didn't think their team could win in their own gym. More than that though, the Cyclones fans had the presence of mind to know that the win wasn't even court rush worthy, because it came so early in the conference season.
Unfortunately there aren't enough Iowa State fan bases out there and court rushing has become played out as a result.
Last year I saw South Carolina fans rush the court after beating a struggling Kentucky team. This year St. Bonaventure's students rushed the court after beating 18th ranked VCU.
Fans seem to be willing to rush the court if the game is on the first Tuesday after a full moon, if the arena played that ghastly Meghan Trainor song during a TV timeout, or if one of the towel kids had a solid night of wiping sweat out of the lane. The action has become so annoyingly arbitrary that it's just about lost all meaning other than an explosion of narcissistic, mindless hooliganism. "Our team is not as good as yours so we're gonna go nuts when we steal a win!" That kind of crap can stay put English soccer stadiums where it belongs.
And it's unfortunate, because rushing the court after a huge win can and should be a great college experience. It doesn't have to be this idiotic nonsense like we saw out of the K-State fans Monday night, the actions of their crowd an indicative extension of that team's lack of discipline and cohesion.
The worst part of court rushing, whether it comes after a justified victory or not, is that it puts opposing players and coaches in a dangerous reality. One in which they are the ones at ultimate risk for devastating ramifications, not the fans.
When some chump runs out of the stands all pumped up on the faux courage of having a thousand fellow fans at his back and decides to body check a player like Jamari Traylor, what is Jamari honestly supposed to do? If he'd retaliated (like former Oregon Ducks player Legarrette Blount did a few years back when he dropped that Boise State fan with a right hook after the field became overrun with Broncos fans getting in his face) Traylor would have faced suspension. Given the extreme emotional and physical weight that a game's outcome carries among the fans, and especially the players, it's like playing with fire. I'm surprised we haven't seen more brawls break out during court stormings. There aren't a lot of sound decisions being made when so many emotions are at play.
Personally, I don't completely buy the claim that Kansas fans would never rush the court. While Jayhawk fans expect to win every game in their hallowed gym, Kansas has had plenty of court rush worthy games at Allen Fieldhouse. Namely the 2012 comeback win in the last ever Border War matchup against Mizzou that earned the ‘Hawks their 8th straight Big 12 Title. Or surviving Kevin Durant's all out scoring explosion to come back and win the 2007 Big 12 title on the last game of the regular season. Both of those games had the building pulsing and ready to explode, and both would have prompted a worthy rush of James Naismith Court.
But anyone who's ever been in Allen Fieldhouse knows that even if the fans felt the urge to rush the court, it's pretty much impossible. For one thing the student section is a good 15 feet behind the baskets and up on a landing, making it hard to get out of. As for the seating sections along the sides of the court, there are really only four entrances to the court from them, one on each corner, creating a bottleneck of fans who are met by two security/usher personnel always posted at the steps. The rest of the space is taken up by a media table, the scorer's table and the benches.
ESPN reporter Holly Rowe mentioned in Monday night's game that the only time KU fans rushed the court was after the NCAA Title when the 5,000 or so fans who showed up to watch the game at the Fieldhouse couldn't contain their emotions. First, not the same thing, because there were no opponent players or coaches to be crushed by the swarm. Second, winning the National Title was court rush worthy even had there been an actual game played there. And third, because there was no security presence for that viewing, it was the only time the kids could actually make it to the court.
The Allen Fieldhouse security doesn't mess around. Knowing this from having attended so many games at the Fieldhouse I have to wonder what the hell these other gyms are calling security. A place like Bramlage Coliseum allows for wide avenues to spill right out onto the court.
Like I said above, there are games worthy of crashing the court. It has just become abundantly clear that most college basketball fans have no real concept of a game that carries the magnitude to justify the action. And the more people who do it are only going to make others want to join in. We don't need people getting crushed or opposing players and coaches stuck in the melee, risking injury or assault. And never for a game that is for all intents and purposes rather insignificant.
So the burden then rests on the school and the arena to curb such behavior. Yet most have clearly shown that they are incompetent of doing so. You can't even post a security perimeter around the opposing bench?
Last year the NCAA threatened to dish out fines to schools where a court was rushed. Such action packs absolutely no resonance with a juiced up student body gone completely insane in the moment. It's not their money.
What does matter to them? The victory.
What might actually work then is to issue a dead clock technical foul for court rushing. If a particular game is left to a one or two point margin, it could cost a win. Once the technical foul has been whistled the crowd would be given ten minutes to clear the court or risk having the game forfeited for crowd interference. The refs would be required to stick around and make a judgment call. But if this happened even once or twice to cost a team a game, then you can guarantee the butts would stay in their seats.
I don't want to take away the fun or excitement of enjoying your team's victory. But there was nothing fun about what K-State fans did Monday night. It was stupid and prompted by a glaringly obvious inferiority complex.
Whatever the case, security or expectations, the fact that Kansas fans don't rush the court in this modern day glut of arbitrary court storming makes the whole school look better for it.
But you know what makes me madder than anything about this whole thing? That Kansas State and schools like them have gone and ruined something I was fine with for years. Leaving me no choice but to shake my fist like a lame old man.
"These darn kids!! This is why we can't have anything nice! Now get off the court!"