Starkey: Court-storming stupidity must stop |
U.S./World Sports

Starkey: Court-storming stupidity must stop

Kansas State fans rush the floor after defeating Kansas on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in Manhattan, Kan.

I’m not sure when profanity-laced chants became an accepted part of the college-basketball experience, but as embarrassing as they are, they’re not dangerous.

Court storming is another matter. It’s out of control. It’s stupid. It’s hazardous. And it needs to stop.

Fans pay to watch from the stands. That is where they belong — before, during and after the game.

On Monday, Kansas State students stampeded after a win over Kansas. One idiot elbowed Kansas forward Jamari Traylor. Coach Bill Self was pinned against the scorer’s table. Assistant Kurtis Townsend, trying to protect players, grabbed a fan.

Fun stuff.

On the same night, after a high school game in West Hartford, Conn., police broke up a brawl that erupted during a court rush. Around this time last year, a melee broke out when Utah Valley State fans blitzed the court after a win over New Mexico State.

It’s amazing there aren’t more incidents, considering the lethal cocktail such scenarios produce. The losing team is wrapped in negative emotion, its players and coaches exposed to manic and possibly liquored-up fans seconds after the buzzer.

You hear people say, “What’s the risk? You can get hit by a bus, too.”

Yes, well, transportation is necessary. Court storming isn’t. Particularly when it’s, say, No. 14 Maryland beating No. 5 Wisconsin. Or Cal beating Oregon for the 10th straight time. Yet those instances produced a court rush.

Possible deterrents: 1. Fine the home school like the SEC does (although it should be stiffer than $5,000 for the first incident). 2. Beef up security. Police dogs, like the ones they use at Florida, have an amazing way of curbing one’s desire to move forward.

A radical way to end the idiocy would be a mandatory forfeit. Court storming would disappear faster than creative offense.

Too drastic?

Tell that to Joe Kay. He was an Arizona high school star headed to Stanford in 2004 when his life changed forever. After his dunk finished off a rival school, fans raced onto the court. Kay was crushed. His carotid artery was torn. He is permanently paralyzed on one side.

“Granted, I was small potatoes,” Kay told in 2013. “But it seems nothing was learned.”

ESPN, incidentally, fuels the fire. Kids want to get on TV. ESPN obliges. And don’t be surprised if, after leading “SportsCenter” with yet another court storm, the network directs you to “Outside the Lines” for an examination of the dangers of court storming.

At Pitt, sanity prevails. The Oakland Zoo has an unwritten rule: Don’t storm the court under any circumstance (there hasn’t been a court rush here since an upset of No. 12 Syracuse in 2002 at Fitzgerald Field House). Whether it’s beating WVU on a last-second shot seven years ago or No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 12 North Carolina this season, the Zoo stays put.

“When you rush the court, you’re telling the other school they’re better than you,” Zoo president Nick Brenner says. “Once in a while (a student) will tweet, ‘The Oakland Zoo will storm the court.’ Everyone else will tweet, ‘No, they won’t.’”

Students responsibly self-policing? That might be the best solution of all.

Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at [email protected].

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