Sports, Column

Go Ahead And Storm

“Sticking it to the man” is an American pastime. Whether by revolting against the British or subjecting the world to those uniforms and facial hair at the 1994 World Cup, Americans have long been storming past security to do the outrageous.

So for all the college students who witness upsets and have their schools win titles-rush the floor. Just do it. Breeze by those security guards, don’t listen to “the man,” and juke through those seated on the floor. If you trip and fall, just remember that there are hundreds of more fans coming and that television cameras are rolling to watch you go down. Have fun with it. Stomp on the center of your team’s circle and just lose yourself. If you are one of those sad souls cheering for an SEC basketball team, make your school pay that fine.

Protecting the floor has become a conflict for college basketball teams around the nation, whether on the floor of a game that decides the ACC regular season title or a matchup between Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara. Some have called for conferences and the NCAA to ban court storming in order to protect coaches and players. Colleges do not need to be the fun police, but they do need to use common sense.

If you are the away team, get yourself off the floor. Don’t let that intoxicated 21-year-old get under your skin, because no matter how burned you’re feeling, you are better than that. For years, court and field storming have been a marquee piece of college tradition. It would be an insult to students and the game to get rid of it.
An unabridged rushing of the floor is the best moment a home team and school can have in a season that might have ended poorly. Court storming can celebrate a championship, upset, or defeat of a rival that has tortured your team for years.

The most anti-climatic event of the college basketball season occurred when Virginia topped a flailing Syracuse team to win its first ACC title in a couple of decades. A pitiful string of yellow jackets formed a crease around the players, and jubilation commenced without the Virginia players being able to join in with their fans. Let the kids have fun and create an experience they will never forget. It is an experience for the players and coaches-just ask Boston College football head coach Steve Addazio.
Storming the court has to be reserved for special occasions though, otherwise it isn’t special. Some conditions have to apply.

No. 1: Winning a championship.

In college basketball, especially at the major level, championships are rarely won at home because conference tournaments are played at neutral sites. So when Virginia won its title against Syracuse, heading onto the floor was justified. Even though winning a regular-season title only gets you as far as the NIT, it is still a cause for celebration. Some mid-major tournaments are held at campus sites, so if the home team is headed to the Big Dance, it is definitely cause for a rush. And Grantland’s Mark Titus is right-away fans shouldn’t be shy, either.

No. 2: Teams that are unranked should only rush the floor if they beat a team in the top five.

Penn State needs to check itself for a pathetic showing after beating Ohio State. The Nittany Lions are a 15-16 program headed into the Big Ten Tournament, and before the No. 22 Buckeyes came to down, Penn State had already gone to Columbus and pulled off a victory in overtime. Let me get this straight, Happy Valley-you’re rushing the floor to commemorate beating a team that is not even favored to make a run come March, having already beaten them? Maybe a little time for reflection is overdue.
The same applies to BC. While it was allowed and encouraged by the school that students head onto the field after the team picked up its sixth win of a turnaround season against NC State, that win doesn’t constitute rushing the field. Addazio turned the program around in one season, but that does not call for students to mosey onto the Alumni turf to celebrate a team beating six schools, and eventually seven.

None of those teams won bowl games and just two were eligible, let alone ranked. While it was quite the coup to whip the football program around, bowl eligibility at this school was the standard just five years ago-not the goal. On the last day of Syracuse’s season, the Orange became bowl eligible and no fans broke down the gates to get on to the field in the Carrier Dome.

No. 3: The field can also be rushed if an unbelievable ending happens.

Especially if you get that instinct that something like it will never happen again to conclude a game. See last year’s Iron Bowl.

No. 4: Finally beating a rival that has eluded defeat for more than five years.

Imagine Duke beating North Carolina in basketball for five years, before having a down year. If North Carolina beats Duke after that timespan, it’s time to head onto the floor, because the win has kept the rivalry intact. If one school becomes dominant like that, it isn’t a rivalry anymore, which would explain why BC and Holy Cross have gone so long without playing a football game-though they will down the road.

So if the circumstances permit, go wild, and in the name of your ancestors, make Jack Black proud by “sticking it to the man.”

March 13, 2014