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Kansas State’s court storm raises issues

By Alex Wise / Staff Writer

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Storming the court is obnoxious. Storming the court is harmless. Storming the court is dangerous. Storming the court is fun. Storming the court is unsportsmanlike. Storming the court is exciting.

Pick an opinion, any opinion.

After unranked Kansas State University’s home win over No. 8 University of Kansas on Monday night, Wildcat fans spilled out of the stands and onto the court, swarming players, referees, coaches, reporters and photographers. Thousands of enthusiastic kids celebrating a victory over their biggest rival, a perennial powerhouse in the college basketball world: it’s quite the sight to see. Everybody in Manhattan, Kan. was happy last night.

Everybody except for Kansas head coach Bill Self, who complained about the court storming in his post-game press conference.

Kansas State’s athletic department responded with an apology that was as unnecessary as it was halfhearted and weak.

“Our security staff…was unable to get into proper position quickly enough last night and was overwhelmed by the fans rushing the floor,” KSU athletic director John Currie said.

First of all, there’s no need to apologize for something you can’t control. That’s why I don’t apologize to my roommates when I eat their leftover pizza. It’s out of my hands.

Second of all, what is ‘proper position’? Is placing one security guard in a bright yellow jacket every 10 feet really going to stop a few thousand college students from leaving the bleachers? 

I’ve seen the security at many college basketball venues, and I can nearly guarantee that men well over the age of 60 and women under 5-foot-4, who make up the majority of “security” teams, can’t physically stop anybody from getting by. And, assuming security would have been effective if it had been in place, why was security not in place quickly enough? It’s not like Kansas State came from behind with six seconds left on the clock and nailed a buzzer beater for the win.

The Wildcats led for the final eight minutes.

I understand that something needs to be done. It’s not acceptable for coaches to get pinned up against the scorer’s table, as Self was, or for players to have fans throwing elbows at them, as Kansas forward Jamari Traylor did. But what can we do to change it?

Most conferences have a system in place to fine schools for their students storming the court, but that matters little to the students doing the storming. They don’t have to pay the fines personally, and they’ll almost certainly see their stunt replayed on ESPN later that night.

Maybe we should start playing basketball in hockey rinks, with plexiglass boards keeping fans at bay. Or, better yet, let’s play in a bubble! Imagine the floor of the Petersen Events Center enclosed in a big plastic dome, keeping us pesky fans and our loud noises on the outside. It’s not like the Oakland Zoo even helps that much, anyway.

In case you haven’t been able to tell, I’m a proponent of court-storming. I think it’s fun to watch, would be absurdly fun to participate in and is an exciting opportunity for fans to come together with the team they support. Is it dangerous? Perhaps a bit. And I apologize to those who, in the past, suffered injuries as a result of a stormed court.

There’s also room to argue the situations in which storming is acceptable (hint: when you’re ranked, it’s always unacceptable…looking at you, West Virginia). But fan excitement and participation, especially at the student level, are an integral part of the game that the NCAA and the schools themselves cannot, should not and will not remove.

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Kansas State’s court storm raises issues