Opinion: It's Time to Finally Ban Court Storming

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Charleston Gazette-Mail


I had always been neutral on the topic of court stormings. I participated in such an event once in my life - when Wheeling Park's boys basketball team beat Woodrow Wilson in triple overtime in the 1995 Class AAA state championship game. Otherwise, if the kids wanted to rush the basketball court or the football field to celebrate a big win, it didn't bother me either way.

After the events of this past weekend, though, it might be time to put the practice into the mothballs.

As of Sunday evening, West Virginia University continued to investigate the skirmish that occurred between its men's basketball team and Texas Tech fans following the No. 8 Red Raiders' win over the No. 2 Mountaineers. After the game, the fans in Lubbock, Texas, rushed the court, barreling past WVU players in the process. Video posted to social media showed a Texas Tech fan running into WVU player Wes Harris, with Harris then striking the fan.

Discussion of the incident is not likely over. Chances are some punishment will be announced. The disappointing part of this entire situation is that it didn't have to happen in the first place.

It's simple: If the fans don't storm the court, the WVU players aren't caught in a sea of Red Raider supporters and the incident never occurs. It was a scenario that was just itching for a bad ending. A bunch of jubilant fans stampeded past a group of frustrated, disappointed college basketball players who just lost a close game.

From ABHarris Reprimanded, Tech Fined After Court Storming

Should Harris have kept his cool when the Texas Tech fan collided with him? Absolutely.

Should that Texas Tech fan have run into Harris in the first place? Should that fan have even gotten the opportunity?

There's a good chance that fan, caught up in the moment, was more worried about getting to the middle of the court than who was in his path. But there's always that one jerk out of a hundred who knows exactly what he's doing when he's sprinting across the court. He wants to get in that one last jab, that one last taunt. So maybe he'll have an "oops moment when he just happens to "accidentally run into the opposing team's player.

Ask any teacher. It's the bad actor or group of bad actors who ruin it for everyone else. That's not to say this Texas Tech fan was a bad actor. We don't know for sure. But the incident happened, either way. And now WVU, Texas Tech and the Big 12 all must deal with it.

It's a nuisance. It's an unnecessary problem. It doesn't have to happen.

And there's one easy way to end it.

The Big 12 should either end the practice of court stormings or make it very painful for the school that lets its fans pour onto its court. Fines are a good idea, as long as those fines are punitive enough to make a fan base think twice about climbing down from its seats.

The Big East fined Marquette $5,000 after its fans rushed the court after beating Villanova.

The SEC fined Auburn and Vanderbilt each $100,000 after their fans stormed the court after beating Kentucky. A six-figure penalty should make any school clamp down on the practice.

And then there's the question of whether Texas Tech fans should have run to the court at all. Their top-10 team beat another top-10 team on its home court in a game where it was favored by as many as five points. TTU did what it was supposed to do in that game. This wasn't David slaying Goliath. Did that win really call for that type of reaction?

Court storming can be dangerous and leads to more problems than it's worth. So fans should find another way to celebrate or their schools should at least be finding themselves with a hefty fine to pay.

I'm sure I'll be chastised as some cranky old man with this opinion and some young turk will complain about "HOT TAKEZ. Eh, maybe it is my middle age that has me thinking this way. So I'll raise a glass of prune juice at you as a toast. And I'll still tell you to knock it off.

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January 15, 2018


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