Rushing the court after an important basketball has become a right of passage for many college students. It gives the fans the ability to feel like they were an actual part of the game and the outcome. For many fans, it allows for a catharsis of sorts after a disappointing season or for supporting a team that has been underperforming.
While this college basketball season treated fans to a ridiculous number of upsets, it has also brought about an excessive amount of court rushing. In fact, so many that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been on the receiving end of the rush four times this season, questioned the safety implications of this ritual.
The fear for safety is not completely unfounded. Having a large amount of students wildly sprinting to the floor is an injury just waiting to happen. This season has already had a close call when a fan in a wheelchair was knocked over and almost trampled after a North Caroline State University game, which coincidently came against Duke.
The ACC has decided they will look into the incidents and decide if they will go the way of the SEC, which imposes a fine on schools that rush the court. There is no need to ban or impose a fine for this tradition. What these fans need is a set of guidelines on when it is appropriate to pour out of the stands when that last buzzer sounds.
It is always acceptable to rush the court when your team is just awful and they score an upset over a highly ranked team. When Penn State, which was previously without a win in Big Ten play, took down #4 ranked Michigan, any fan that bothered to show up to the game was more than deserving to rush that court. In fact, Penn State finally getting its first conference win would have been good enough for a rush against any conference team.
If at any point during the season your team was ranked and fell out of the rankings, you have no right to rush. They had their chance to be considered amongst the best and blew it. Getting that signature win is a good way for them to get back into the rankings, but not reason enough for fans to go crazy over.
Usually there is no reason to rush when beating a team that is not currently ranked in the top 5, which should be the threshold for when it is acceptable. As with all good rules, there are exceptions that can be made.
The main exception is when it comes to bitter rivals. If a team’s rival has had their number for an extended period, a victory should result in fans storming the court. There is no better way to rub the loss in the rival’s face than by making them experience the sheer joy of the fans.
The other is if the team has been on the verge of irrelevance for at least 7 to 8 seasons and they win a game that secures them a spot in the NCAA tournament or the regular season conference title. This one speaks for itself. Winning, especially at this capacity is reason enough for the team and fans to celebrate as one. After all, it is all about the school being one big community.
Court storming is a tradition that should be upheld and continued so that fans for many years can have that incredible experience. The only way for this to be possible is for fans to realize that not every win deserves a rush and make sure they are as safe about it as possible. Wins that deserve a court storming should only come twice in the career of a college student. If it happens more than that; it will end up losing its luster.