Call me a spoilsport, but I think the nation’s major conferences should follow the lead of the Southeastern Conference and ban court storming at basketball games.
Most of you have probably seen video of the Kansas State students rushing the Bramlage Auditorium court after K-State’s upset win over KU the other night.
In addition to the general mayhem, K-State and Kansas coaches Bruce Weber and Bill Self got pinned against the scorer’s table, and a K-State student –later identified as Nathan Power — “chicken winged” KU player Jamari Traylor with an elbow, knocking Traylor off balance (below). Fortunately, Traylor kept his footing — and his cool; he made no attempt to retaliate and just kept heading toward the locker room.
Police yesterday charged Power with disorderly conduct, which should give many students pause.
It was fortunate no one was injured in the melee, but as The Star’s Vahe Gregorian wrote yesterday, this court-storming custom can be downright life threatening.
Eleven years ago a high school player in Tucson was caught up in a court swarming incident in which several fans tried to lift Joe Kay from the floor…but dropped him. He suffered a torn carotid artery and a stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side.
Later that same year — I don’t know if it was coincidence or by design — the Southeastern Conference banned court storming.
And for the most part the league has been free of it since then.
The SEC policy states:
“For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area. It is the responsibility of each member institution to implement procedures to ensure compliance with this policy.”
For the first violation, a school can be fined $5,000; for the second, $25,000; and for the third and all ensuing offenses, $50,000.
There’s another way to approach this problem — short of banning court storming.
One or more event companies have come up with a way to cordon off the bench area of the court.
It goes like this: As a game ends, two groups of security guards — one at each end of the court — move quickly to the middle of the court and form a human, arm-in-arm chain several feet in front of the team benches. Students are funneled onto the main part of the court, while the human chain allows the opposing coaches and players to conduct the traditional post-game greeting line.
Video from a University of Virginia-Duke University game two years ago shows how effective this strategy can be. In the video, the court looks like two different worlds — one where delirious students do their pancake stack, the other where players and coaches go calmly about their post-game business.
The video also shows a security guard at one end of the chain occasionally pushing back students trying to encroach on the no-fan zone. But the wall of safety held and all appeared to end well.
A story in yesterday’s Star said a similar plan was executed last week at West Virginia when the Mountaineers defeated Kansas and the student section flooded onto the floor without incident.
If a majority of schools decide that students should not be deprived of on-court celebrations, the least that should be done is to implement the human-chain strategy.
Another Star story said that the Big 12 Conference issued a public reprimand to Kansas State for its failure to appropriately handle Monday night’s post-game scene.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowslby said the league would look into prohibiting spectators from entering
Bowlsby also addressed another sorry aspect of Monday’s game — profane chants from K-State students, directed at KU, that could be heard during the game broadcast. He added:
“I have asked that discussions on both of these topics be placed on the agendas for the next meetings of the ADs (athletic directors) and of the CEOs…The events following the KU vs. K-State game should be a call to action for all of us.”