Last week, the Duke Blue Devils took a loss to the unranked Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. The game was an exciting and close game which ended in a five point win for the “good guys.” As soon as the final horn went off, the University of Virginia students rushed the court. Which, in my opinion, happens a little to frequently for my liking and I am 100% against rushing when it isn’t a major upset. However, this was an unranked Virginia team against the number three team in the country. I can see a cause for a ruckus after a win like that. This isn’t two unranked teams who just happen to be playing their rivalry game. This is a pretty good upset, one that warrants an court storming. Well, when Coach K got to the press conference, he wasn’t too happy with how the whole thing went down.
After that mild mannered court rushing, the winningest college basketball coach of all time expressed his views on fans rushing the floor. He spouted off a bunch of hypotheticals about player, coach and fan safety. Now I am paraphrasing here, but it went a little something like this: What if a player punches a fan? What if a fan gets in a players face? What if the coaches get into it with a spectator? Ok, we get it Coach. Crazy things can happen. How often have they happened in the past, Coach? Looking at the video above, as well as a few others, the security staff did a very good job of blocking you and your players from any fan interaction. Not only did they do a good job, it looks like all those fans avoided anyone associated with your program. Pretty sure Cavalier fans were as classy as you can be rushing the court in the faces of your opponent.
Coach K you just lost to a kid that played in one of the lowest levels of high school basketball in the state of Washington. Face it Mike, you just don’t like losing. When you get up on the microphone next time, just tell the truth….
I am going to start this off with – yeah, I have been that guy.
This photo was taken somewhere near mid-field after the Huskies beat USC in 2009, by a score of 16-13. USC was ranked (no Matt Barkley though) and UW was coming off the worst season in the history of history. It was Sark vs Carroll, blah, blah, blah, – long story short, UW won and I ran down on the field.
This wasn’t the first time I have done it either. I found myself on the field in Pullman twice, once my freshman year when Washington won 51-3 and went to the Rose Bowl, and the other time when Kai Ellis picked off Matty Kegel and ruined arguably one of the best seasons of Washington State football ever had been played to that point.
I also want to add that this is a slightly reactionary post to the news that is starting to trickle out now about Austin Sefarian-Jenkins getting socked in the face by a fan after the Apple Cup. I am sure news will continue to trickle out about this incident in the week ahead (please note internet trolls, if I am so lucky to pick up a few, I haven’t blamed anyone who is affiliated with Washington State University and will not insinuate so until a proper investigation, if one takes place – takes place) and will also shape this post.
The point of this rant, however, is that fans don’t belong on the field of play, regardless of how big your (the royal “your” being used liberally) win is over any opponent. Unless you ran one in for the score, hit the game winning three or play the trombone. Get off the field and go to the bar.
In my limited internet research on the topic (and really sticking to the Apple Cup for research purposes this one) is that there hasn’t been much good out of fans going on the field in any way, shape or form after a victory.
Exhibit A – 2005 Apple Cup
The best part about this image is that UW didn’t even win this one, but Cap’n America here feels the need to stop the evil doing that is celebrating a win. I won’t get into the merits of celebrating as a visiting player in this fashion on your rivals field, but either way – WSU won. Go home, Dawg fans.
Exhibit B – 2010 Apple Cup
In this video (I would embed it but WordPress keeps stripping out the goodness), you see various Huskies fans on the field after a victory, getting pelted with snowballs and getting arrested. If anything, I learned rushing the field as a visitor makes you a target if anything else.
Here’s a thumbnail from the video. I don’t know how this guy got all bloodied up, but methinks if he just stayed in his seat, filed out of Martin like a regular human being and went to Moscow, ID to drink – he might not have that busted nose.
Exhibit C – 2012 Apple Cup
This one kinda goes without saying – when fans (regardless of affiliation, student, fan, random, terrorist) start punching players, this is only going to get worse. Now, this is a developing situation with more to come I am sure, but the .gif don’t lie – someone rocked ASJ’s world.
The precedence from this one is a little scary. Now players have to defend themselves from the horde. I think that we are all so lucky that ASJ didn’t go after that guy – who knows what that could have incited (probably a loss for ASJ) but now it is just another thing to think about for fans and players alike. I would hate to see a player act out of apparent self-defense by crushing the face of a freshman biology major on their way to the 50-yard line who had no intention of touching anyone, or an apparent tough guy like this one sucker punching Mackey Award finalists when they aren’t paying attention.
I rest my case.
Now, I can already hear the detractors with
- Let the kids have their fun!
- Oh, they were just drunk!
- This guy doesn’t represent all of us.
- When we upset a team, we deserve to celebrate in that fashion!
…and all of these are stupid. The fans don’t deserve anything more than 4 quarters on a football field and a victor declared by playing said game within the framework of the rules. The fans deserve to cheer, boo, hiss, jump up and down, and lastly have a good time. Fans don’t deserve or belong on the field. You personally didn’t win the game, so you don’t get to be down there. It makes as much sense as me rushing a Boeing board meeting because they are selling planes. I am a Boeing fan, I like to see them succeed, but I don’t belong where the people actually doing the work are. Plus, it is way more fun when you let the players do the celebrating/retaliating.
Just ask George Teague.