Sunday, February 13, 2011

7 comments In General, Rushing the Court Is Stupid

Usually Dylan does the insightful opinion-editorial type posts, but I have an issue that annoys me and I wanted to get it out there. I swear I have talked about this issue before, but I can't find it anywhere in the archives. So I will harp on this issue again and assume I haven't talked about it yet. I hate it when fans storm the court. I will detail some times when storming the court is fine, but in general I pretty much don't like it. I don't get why a group of fans would want to say, "We are such a terrible team, yet we won the game. Let's have a huge celebration on the court to celebrate the fact we are a lousy team yet won a big game."

Those of you who follow me on Twitter see me whine about this a lot. I am a huge fan of college basketball, but along with the stupid officiating (I'm not sure college officials really know how to call a charge correctly. They call it way too much...that and I pretty much have a problem with the proliferation of charges calls made), I see rushing the court as my next big college basketball annoyance.

Seth Davis address this issue in a recent mailbag and I sort of agree with his position.

How did you feel about the Washington State fans storming the floor after beating an 18th-ranked team in January? It was a big debate here in Seattle.

-- Jake, Seattle, Wash.

Washington State was 14-6 when they beat the 15-4 Washington Huskies AT HOME. It is embarrassing and stupid the fans stormed the court. Sure, Washington was ranked, but Washington State wasn't much worse of a team than Washington when they played this game. Why demean yourself and your program by storming the court? Especially in a rivalry game? Was it really that shocking your team won that the fans must celebrate excessively like this? If I were a Washington player I would take pride in the fact a team is supposed to be our rival didn't expect to beat us. Rushing the court should happen under a strict set of circumstances (as I will detail in a minute) and this game in no way comes close to meeting those circumstances.

My second reaction is usually, "How lame." When the fans storm a court, they are saying that the other team is so much better than theirs that the simple act of scoring more points is cause for a wild, unhinged celebration. "We're so inferior, yet we won anyway! Yippee!"

Exactly. It is a fan base saying, "Wow, we are a terrible team but we somehow managed to beat this team anyway, we will excessively celebrate this accomplishment." Winning a game is a great thing, but an over-the-top celebration (which is what rushing the court is) isn't required every time a Top 25 team is beaten on the road.

Earlier this year, Indiana University students rushed the court after defeating Illinois. I initially have a problem with this because they are Indiana University. They were in the NCAA Championship game just a few years ago, but have had sanctions and made the error of having anything to do with Kelvin Sampson, so they are clearly rebuilding. On its face, I can't believe the fans for Indiana University would rush the court and I realize it is just kids having fun, but it just seems weird for me that Indiana would rush the court. Of course many of the students haven't seen a win over a ranked team, which says a lot about how far the program has fallen. Still, I cringed a bit in hearing this happened...but in the end I guess I don't have a huge problem with it, but barely.

Here is my opinion when it is never fine to rush the court, followed by the exceptions to this rule. I hope these rules make sense and I don't think they contradict each other (also, I am not egotistical enough to think I have covered every situation possible, but I did try):

1. When it is a rivalry game.

It is not acceptable to rush the court in a rivalry game. Washington State should not rush the court when they beat Washington. Have some respect for yourself and your program. Rivals should have close games where no one knows which team will win and the game is contested bitterly with something (tangible or intangible) at stake. Washington State made the Sweet Sixteen just two years ago. A rivalry should involve two teams that compete bitterly against each other to where one team hasn't traditionally overwhelmed the other team. To rush the court after a win is to essentially admit your team is inferior and it is a shock you won the game. That's not really too much of a rivalry if it is that shocking one of the teams won.


A. When one team has gone through something difficult, like Indiana and their sanctions which was not the fault of their current players or current coaching staff, for 2-3 years which has put the rivalry into a one-sided affair. Simply being a terrible basketball team doesn't cut it. There have to be external forces other than the talent on one team isn't very good. Whether that is sanctions, a tragedy in the program or something like this.

Here's an easy example: Indiana had to deal with the loss of scholarship players due to Kelvin Sampson being a disgrace and so the entire program essentially had to be rebuilt from the ground floor back up. Rushing the court, while admitting the program has fallen, can be seen as acceptable to me. They have overcome a lot and got a big win. Still, it is Indiana University. It's not like they don't have a winning tradition, so on that end I wish they hadn't rushed the court.

Here's another example where rushing the court wasn't appropriate: If Indiana had fired Kelvin Sampson for being terrible and was terrible while trying to rebuild the team, it is not fine to rush the court. If there wasn't a loss of scholarships or the loss of a couple good recruiting classes, which is what happened to Indiana, then it is just a matter of your team being terrible. No need to rush the court in celebration the lack of competence in the past.

2. If both teams are ranked with in 10 spots of each other.

There is no reason to rush the court if both teams are ranked. I can't even think of huge exceptions to this rule. There are not too many. If you are ranked #11 and beat #1 at home, well you are obviously a good team so show some fucking pride in your school.


If one team has made the move to D-I over the past five years. If a team is ranked #24 in the country and made the move to Division-I in the last five years then beating #20 at home may be a cause for celebration as a coronation of your program becoming a successful Division-I program.

3. If you are a part of the following rivalries. Obviously new rivalries can be added to this and subtracted over time, but here's the current list of rivalries where a win is not fine to rush the court:

Duke v. UNC
Kentucky v. Louisville
Kansas v. Missouri
Indiana v. Purdue
Michigan v. Michigan State
Florida v. Kentucky

Even lesser rivalries that have cropped up over the past couple of years, like the ones listed, it is not going to be fine anymore to rush the court:

West Virginia-Pittsburgh
Kansas-Kansas State
Texas-Texas A&M

I am sure I missed a few, but there shouldn't be rushing the court in these instances.


As in #1, the only exception if some external force, not related to the players on the team and their talent, forced one of the teams to not have a good team for 2-3 years.

4. If one of the teams has won a National Championship in the last 5 years.

There is no exception for this. Only players and officials should be on the court if you won a National Championship in the last five years and you beat a "better" team at home.

5. The team that rushed the court has a better overall record or was ranked higher than the team that was beaten. In this case, you are the better team so why rush the court and act like you are inferior? Wouldn't it be easier just to hold up signs that say, "We may be ranked highly but don't think of ourselves as a very good team." Maybe that's a lot to fit one sign, but still...

If one team has a better record than the other team then it is highly likely that team is better than the other team. So act like it.


Obviously there is a limit to how many games could be played when comparing records. Small sample sizes don't count. If Team A is 3-0 and Team B is 2-1 then under certain circumstances it may be fine to rush the court.

Another exception (and this is obvious) is if the team that won is a Division-II team and the team that lost is a Division-I team. Otherwise, if you are ranked higher or have a better record, act like it.

6. Both teams play in the same conference. Don't join the conference if you don't think you can compete. Not to mention, in conference it is hard to win on the road sometimes.


The team that wins the game in an upset is new to the conference over the last 5 years (there's that number again. 5 years is a good time to build a program and get a pipeline of a good team on campus). So if you are new to the conference, feel free to rush the court, but know it will be short-lived.

Exception to the exception:

It has to be an actual upset. If Kentucky joins the Big East the fans can't start rushing the court every game when they beat Syracuse or UConn.

7. It is also not fine to rush the court if your team has had a quality basketball team in the past 2-3 year but currently stinks. For example, Wake Forest has made the NCAA's the past two years and currently is a terrible, terrible team. If they beat UNC at home there is no excuse to rush the court. It should not happen.

Here is when it is fine, in my opinion, to rush the court:

1. When a Division-II team beats a Division-I team.

Exceptions: If it is a terrible Division-I team that gets beat (meaning a Division-I team that has less than 10 wins) or the Division-I team went D-I over the past five years. Don't rush the court in this instance.

2. The game is out-of-conference and the team that gets beat is a traditional national power. For example, if Oregon had beaten Duke earlier this year then it is fine to rush the court. If Florida loses to Oregon State, then it may be okay for Oregon State to rush the court. If Kansas State beats Duke in Manhattan, they should not rush the court though. Kansas State was a good team when they played Duke this year and should have expected to win the game.

I am a big fan of conference teams not rushing the court on each other. Out of conference if it is a true upset, then I am not as strict. I am weird that way. I would prefer teams NEVER rush the court. Even a mid-major should not rush the court if they beat an average team from a major conference. If it is an average mid-major that beats a very good major conference team at home then this is a different story.

3. It has to be an actual upset. I think the idea of an upset has been diminished over the past few years. If Kentucky loses to Tennessee in Tennessee, yes theoretically because Kentucky is ranked over Tennessee then it is an upset, but Tennessee is a good enough team to where they should have a chance at an upset. Northern Iowa beating a decent Big 10 team at home may not be an upset because Northern Iowa has shown itself to be a good team.

Rushing the court should be reserved for games where the fans and students really are not sure their team can win the game. UNC losing to Wake Forest at Wake Forest qualifies as an upset, but both teams are in the ACC and it isn't an upset worthy of rushing the court. The same thing goes for Kansas playing at a place like Florida. There is a disparity between the two teams, but not enough of a disparity to where Florida fans should rush the court.

The disparity between the two teams has to be clear and rushing the court shouldn't just be something that happens because your team beat an opponent that was better than them, but should be reserved for when the team that wins at home over a much better team, preferably an out-of-conference team that is considered an elite team. If you are a shitty mid-major team that beats a ranked major team at home, then possibly you could rush the court.

I get the idea of rushing the court and I am not completely against it, but it depresses me to see fans rush the court after a game where their team only had a minor upset or as a way of having a really grand celebration for a big win. A big win over a team doesn't mean the court should be rushed. Go tip over some cars outside or something after a big win, but don't rush the court every time the team wins a big game, because it only serves as a way of admitting your team was inferior and makes it look like you have little respect for the program.

I generally hate making steadfast rules, but I felt the need to do so here. Undoubtedly I will revise these rules over time.


rich said...

Kind of like the royal "we" that fans use, rushing the court (or the field) is incredibly stupid for something that, I think, gets overlooked:

The fans didn't do anything besides show up

Being a member of the school does not give you the right to celebrate with the players. They busted their butts to get themselves to where they are; that gives them the right to celebrate. It's the culmination of something awesome that they've done.

If you're a fan, you bought a ticket. Congrats. Be happy the team you support won, but let the players celebrate with their teammates and enjoy the moment.

Also, BGF, I'm sorry, but there should be absolutely no exception to rushing the court unless it's a conference championship or something where the stakes are really high. In college basketball they play enough games that one game really isn't important enough to rush the court.

Even in the championship games I'd hesitate to say it's okay because again, being a member of the school does not make you a member of the team and celebrating as if you had actually done something is kind of insulting to the players.

Martin F. said...

To rush the court, you better be a bad team, and for a long time, and have beat a long standing nemesis whi is ranked Top 3 in the country. Nothing else is acceptable. The students do it now just to have it shown on tv, and because their drunk ass brains tell them it's "cool". Watching the students rush the court yesterday after Wisconsin beat Ohio State was absurd. I'd arrest all of them for embarrassing the school, or for trespassing, or whatever I could think of.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I would love to have no exceptions to rushing the court. It kills me fans do it. I put exceptions in there because I understand it is a big deal to beat some teams. I still hate rushing the court. I wrote this before Wisconsin beat OSU yesterday. There is ZERO reason the Wisconsin fans should have rushed the court. None. They are highly ranked too. That's embarrassing.

Martin F, it becomes a thing to do basically. It is a way of getting your team some notice and to celebrate with the players. It's really played out and is embarrassing. It's just overdone now.

koleslaw said...

You know what I miss? Crowds of people tearing down goalposts. I think that should happen all the time. Wanton destruction is awesome. I want to see Southwest Eastern Dakota Louisiana State Tech beat a team like North Carolina and just go apeshit and rush the floor, turn up the scorers table, pull down the rims.

Or the Red Sox come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the ALCS and the fans rush the field in old Yankee Stadium and rip down the foul poles. That would be sweet.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, I am not sure if that counts as rushing the court or not. Wanton destruction seems like a good idea on paper because after it happens a few times schools will refuse to let the fans rush the court and I will get my way. So bring on the destruction and finally the cost of allowing students on the court will allow schools to stop allowing students on court.

Josh said...

So you are playing the role of the no fun police huh? This rush the court debate is something that comes up every single year and it is just stale at this point.

Why can't college kids have fun and celebrate with the team? They did not play the game but they pay money to go to the school and often camp out for seats in the winter.

You also never know when you are going to get a big win again. What made my final decision for me to go to Wake Forest was seeing the students rush the court after a Duke win. The next season, we beat UNC at Home (we were around #5, they were #1 or #2 I believe) and we did not rush the court since we were expected to beat them.

After that, we had no big home wins during my time as a student and I never got to rush the court. It's one of the experiences I wish I had as a student. I got to do it for a football game (with my roommate as a walk on which was fun) but every time I see a RTC, I realize how much I wanted one as my time as a student.

I believe it is not indicative of an upset or where your program is. It is a group of students celebrating with fellow students over a big win. Let them have their fun.

Bengoodfella said...

Josh, I guess I am playing the role of no-fun police. I don't look at it that way really, but that' fine. I think watching a basketball game is fun without storming on the court.

College kids can have as much fun as they want and celebrate with the team. Rushing the court has become stale and cliched in my mind. It is something fans just do now. Even UNC is rushing the court after beating Duke, which his absolutely embarrassing for a program of that stature.

I'm glad Wake didn't rush the court when they were expected to beat UNC, that is how I prefer to see it.

I absolutely believe it is a sign of an upset or where a program believes it is. Rushing the court is a demonstrative sign that your team didn't something rare and particularly enjoyable. That's why you didn't get to rush the court because Wake didn't upset any much-higher ranked teams to where it was worth the celebration of running on the court.

It is also a sign of where your fans believe your program to be. UNC fans recently rushed the court against Duke because their students are morons who can't seem to recall UNC has a historically respected and successful program, more so than Duke's program. Rushing the court is absolutely about where a program is and teams will almost never rush the court if their university didn't just upset a higher ranked team.