If you’re a history buff, like me, you’re fascinated by the evolution of norms.
Horses were the cars of the 1800s, and their emissions went unregulated.
In the olden days, a trip across the United States could last months, especially if you didn’t have TSA PreCheck.
“Facebook” was a teacher’s command.
It’s fun to look at life in 2019 and imagine how future generations will regard our habits.
“People actually smoked … what were they called … cigarettes? If only they had known what was in them.”
“They boarded planes starting with the front?”
“They really let fans run onto the court after basketball games?’’
Like The Wave and soul patches, court-storming was kinda cute for about five minutes. At least court-storming, in the beginning, seemed spontaneous. Fans were so overwhelmed by epic upsets that they sprinted across hardwood to celebrate, to immerse themselves in history.
Court-storming quickly became a cliche, one worsened by a lowering of standards. College basketball isn’t what it used to be, meaning there are fewer true upsets. The home team almost always has a chance to win.
When the Gophers beat Purdue on Tuesday, was that really a major, court-storming-worthy upset? Purdue is 5-6 on the road. The Gophers are 13-3 at Williams Arena, which remains a difficult place to play. Purdue was ranked No. 11, but the Gophers should be an NCAA tournament team.
It was an upset only if you ignore these facts, and it shouldn’t have been enough to spark fans to run onto the court, unless they were planning to all along.
This is my first argument against court-storming: It’s usually silly.
My second argument: It could become dangerous.
After the Gophers won on Tuesday, a fan ran up to Purdue center Matt Haarms and flashed one finger on each hand. He wasn’t trying to invent an ambidextrous peace sign, either.
Haarms kept his cool. Good for him, and lucky for the fan.
But what if Haarms hadn’t? What if the next time an idiot, and perhaps a drunken idiot, sprints onto a basketball court and taunts an opposing player, and the player takes a swing?
Charles Barkley once threw an annoying fan through a window. And we saw how much damage a basketball player can do with a punch during the infamous brawl between the Gophers and Ohio State in 1972.
At best, you could have an uncomfortable scene, with a few security guards trying to separate a dozen players and hundreds of fans.
At worst, you could have an all-too-real Wrestlemania, with broken bones and blood, and perhaps a basketball player breaking his hand on a fan’s face and altering the course of his team’s season.
You could have assault charges filed against a player who should never have been put in position to assault someone.
As with most problems, this one is easier to identify than to solve.
Should home teams be required to employ so many security guards that no student could break through the line and make it to the court? Should guards tase a student to set a precedent?
There is only one ideal solution: For fans to recognize that court-storming is a bad idea whose time has passed, and to stop doing it.
And that’s not going to happen. Because fans are … fans. To be a fan is to embrace irrationality, and to be a modern fan is to crave your 15 seconds of broadcast fame, even if you spend those 15 seconds embarrassing yourself.
This isn’t a generational critique. There were court-stormers and over-the-top taunts when I was in college, and we didn’t think much about either as long as no one ripped down the peach baskets.
There are idiots and bad actors in every generation. That’s the problem. One of these days, the kid running onto the court and waving the wrong fingers is going to get punched, and the fact that he’ll have it coming won’t make the ensuing brawl any easier to stomach, or untangle.