Jan 14, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers fans rush the court after defeating Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall. Indiana won 75-72. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Slow Down: Put the Brakes on Rushing the Court

I agree with Coach K and I don’t like it. Not one bit.  When Duke University Men’s Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski opines about the dangers of basketball fans storming the court, it comes off as a bit of sour grapes, since the Blue Devils incite court storming whenever they lose, no matter the circumstances.  Now, I’m not debating on who should or should not storm the court (but seriously, Indiana?), I think that no one should do it because typically when thousands of people rush to the same place at the time, bad things can happen.

Jan 14, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Stanford Robinson (22) celebrates with his teammates after the victory against the Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall. Indiana defeats Wisconsin 75-72. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, there have not yet been an incident at one of the court storming’s at college basketball, but I think that it’s only a matter of time before a wholly preventable catastrophe occurs.  Most arenas simply aren’t built to allow the crowd from the stands to rush onto the playing surface as quickly as when it occurs when fans rush the court. There’s always a chance of someone being knocked down and trampled or pressed against the protective railings most facilities have to explicitly keep people off the playing surface.  As these event become more and more common, the chance of something serious happening is only going to increase.

On November 19, 2004, the infamous “Malice at the Palace” brawl took place at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a game between the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons.  In one of the darker events in North American sports, players went into the stands and fans came onto the court. And the results weren’t good. There had been an unspoken rule that fans and players respected that boundary. Since then, arenas have been filled with more security to keep the two groups appropriately apart.

So, why are these court storming incidents still allowed to take place and encouraged? We all saw University of Kentucky guard stare down an Arkansas fan that had made his way to the court after the game. In the pictures, we see Harrison, we see the fan and we see Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua intervening between the two. What we don’t see is any security personnel in the frame.  There’s a fan on the court, obviously engaged in some sort of heated discussion with a player that just lost an incredibly tense game. That just seems like a recipe for yet another preventable situation.

Let the players play and let the fans cheer and keep them separated. What’s the rush?

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