Rushing the Court: Fun Celebration or Annoying Safety Risk?

By Michael Citro on March 2, 2014 at 8:15a

When Penn State beat No. 22 (as in not No. 2) Ohio State on Thursday night in Happy Valley, the few jubilant Nittany Lions fans in attendance rushed the court in celebration. This, after the win improved the Nitts to 5-10 in the conference and 14-14 overall.

Predictably, there was outrage and ridicule about the court storming all over Twitter and message boards — both by Ohio State fans, who were understandably grumpy about the game, and by third party hoops aficionados with no dog in the fight but who are simply anti-court storming folk.

Personally, I was fine with it.

It’s kind of flattering, if you think about it. Penn State basketball has been so dire for so long that the prospect of beating one of Ohio State’s most mediocre teams in the Thad Matta era is worthy of delirium among its proponents.

That’s not just any old Buckeyes squad they beat, it’s the Big Ten’s fourth or fifth best team, darn it!

Generally speaking, I’m ok with the concept of court storming, however silly it may be. The exception is when someone is put in harm’s way. There have been a few instances of injury to both spectators and athletes in the mayhem that is a good ol’ fashioned court stormin’.

That’s not ok. I’m more a fan of an orderly court storming, I guess. But that’s not generally the way it works.

 I’ve never seen a court storming that appeared to be staged, although it would be hard to tell that on television.  Are student cheering sections inciting this now? I ask the question because I honestly don’t know.

I’ve never stormed a basketball court, but have been part of some field-storming in football. And I can’t exactly tell you why I did it.

I’m sure the catalyst is the general euphoria of seeing your team win the game.

No Ohio State fan thought this court rush was a bad idea.
Photo AP/Terry GIlliam

But why does an individual rush the field/court? Having done it myself, I have given this a lot of thought. And the thing that sticks out in my mind is that there was never a conscious decision on my part to do so.

When the Buckeyes beat No. 1 Iowa in the Horseshoe in 1985, I can recall the feeling of happiness build throughout the game, especially in the late going when it became obvious Ohio State would win. I recall counting down the final seconds with the rest of the crowd – “five, four, three, two, ONE! YEAAAAHHH!!”

And then…well, there is a palpable surge of emotion, as if staying in your seat (or, more accurately, standing in front of your seat) is simply insufficient and some kind of release is required. When you see others pouring out of the stands, some kind of instinct kicks in. You simply follow. Unless you’re in C Deck.

What is this instinct? Perhaps it’s a remnant of the tribalism embedded in all of us since our ancestors announced their wedding by clubbing their mate in the head and dragging them back to the cave. Suddenly you’re not using conscious thought, but instinctively participating in the same ritual as the tribe — in this case, the tribe known as “Ohio State fan.” (Or whatever school for which you are court/field rushing.)

It might be a smart thing to outlaw the practice of court/field rushing. After all, if it prevents even one serious injury, it’s worth doing from a practical standpoint.

But it would certainly be a buzzkill.

Legislating an end to rushing the basketball court or football field would take away some of the spontaneous passion of college sports. The rule would probably be ignored at times, forcing the NCAA to take further action. Next thing you know, the fields and courts of collegiate sports would be surrounded by a partition akin to the boards at a hockey arena.

But college kids being who they are, would that even stop them? Might that not even lead to more serious injuries from people trying to scale such barriers? It’s not hard to imagine a horde of people crushing the unlucky ones up front, who have no way to escape. It would not be the first time sports fans were killed in such a manner.

I expect that the storming behavior could be altered over time. But at what cost between now and then? Maybe only a cost in dollars. Potentially the cost of lives.

It’s easy to sit back and say people have no one to blame but themselves if they were to become harmed through rushing the court. But if barriers were erected and crushing deaths occurred, who would be held liable? Our society’s history tells us that it probably wouldn’t be those who participated in the rushing.

I don’t have the answers. I only know that rushing the field has produced memories for me that I cherish. Tearing down the goal posts on a rainy November afternoon in 1985 will stay with me forever. I’d hate for others to miss out on similar experiences. But I see the need to keep everyone — athletes, fans, and event workers — safe.

That said, I’m a proponent for fun. There probably needs to be a compromise of some kind between allowing and forbidding the rushing of a court or field. I don’t know what it is, but until then, I’ll enjoy the court rushing and silently hope that no one gets hurt.

Court rush responsibly, friends.


Comments Show All Comments

ScarletNGrey01's picture

It’s kind of flattering, if you think about it. Penn State basketball has been so dire for so long that the prospect of beating one of Ohio State’s most mediocre teams in the Thad Matta era is worthy of delirium among its proponents.

Great line Michael.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+2 HS
bucksfan92's picture

This "outrage" at court rushing is just stupid.  This has been going on ever since basketball was invented and it will continue forever.  No matter what the media, or fans of certain schools who claim their fans have never done it, who are all wrong btw - EVERY school's fans have done it at some point - it is part of the fabric of the sport.  Of course Penn State was going to rush the court - I knew with 2 minutes left all 700 fans in attendance were going to be on that floor.  They hadn't beaten OSU in over a decade, and now they swept us.  That is completely unfathomable and their fans have every right to rush on to the court, they probably won't beat us again for another 10 years. Let them have their moment of jubilation.

+4 HS
ibuck's picture

Would you feel the same way if players were injured? If your highly-ranked team lost a key/best player for the NCAA tourney?

There have been a few instances of injury to both spectators and athletes in the mayhem that is a good ol’ fashioned court stormin’.

The players, coaches and refs all try to get off the court as quickly as possible—to safety. Even the home (winning) team's players. It's well established fact that mob behavior can become bizarre and dangerous quickly. 

I'm all for celebrations, but not mob action. Just take it outside.


Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

...This has been going on ever since basketball was invented and it will continue forever.


I don't think it's my imagination that court-storming is a LOT more common than it used to be. It wasn't long ago that it was generally limited to one or more of the following occurring: 1) a win with something on the line, like a championship or Rose Bowl berth; 2) a buzzer-beater or similarly thrilling or unlikely finish; 3) a win over a team that's top-ranked or close. The game on Thursday didn't really qualify in any way (the "last-second" aspect of it was Buckeye misses, not Nittany Lion makes).

It didn't upset me -- rather, I was upset about how we played -- but I found it more than a little pathetic and not especially "spontaneous."

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Carson's picture

I see the need to keep everyone — athletes, fans, and event workers — safe.

I agree, but with significant injuries/altercations resulting from rushing/storming unlikely, why is legislative action necessary?

To remedy the heart of this "problem", we would have to alter how fans celebrate, which certainly isn't as simple as a blockade (which could even compound the issue) or even a fine issued to the school.

brandonbauer87's picture

Rushing courts/fields are the greatest moments for a young fan. I would never want to see it go away. 

+1 HS
BrewstersMillions's picture

The moments that trigger court\field rushes have nothing to do with those fans. Its taking the moment away from the players by interjecting yourselves (as fans) into something you watched, not participated in. Rushes are stupid.

brandonbauer87's picture

I couldn't disagree more. Those fans have an emotional and financial investment in that team. Fans are not celebrating alone on the court, they're celebrating with the team. 

+3 HS
route4buckeye's picture

No problem with it at all. It's about being a fan. The Nits fans deserved to.

+2 HS
Buck Commander's picture

They did it Because Penn State sucks at everything and hasn't Been able to be excited about anything since Sandusky got kicked out of the shower.

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

-1 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

I guess I am against court storming unless it is a legit upset of unranked vs top ten. If that happens, then there is obvious reason to storm the court. But even then I am a bit iffy. I am just not all about the court storming...

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Crumb's picture

I think it's fine as long as we fans aren't sore winners. Don't taunt the team you just beat and don't impede them getting off the court or field. Remember that and it shouldn't be a real problem. I rushed the field in 2009 when we beat Iowa in OT to win the B1G and go to the Rose Bowl. That was an amazing experience and I wouldn't want to deprive anyone else of such fun. The passion and fun of the college games is why the NFL and NBA can't hold a candle to College Hoops and College Football.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

It's bad enough that players get penalties/technicals for celebrating.  If they stopped fans from storming the court, college sports would be as bland as the pros.  This is part of what makes college sports so great.  Fans feel as though they are a part of the team and rightfully deserve to celebrate the accomplishment.

+4 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Besides,  this lifeless teams needs to get punked by a crappy team like Penn St to wake it from it's coma.  Don't like fans storming the court?  Don't lose to mediocre teams.

+3 HS
Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

I think the bigger epidemic facing college hoops today is Tom Crean cutting down the nets after a loss, with about eighteen people in the crowd.

+1 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The outraged Buckeye fans need to relax!  They beat us and earned the right to celebrate the victory.  If anybody on the basketball team was upset about it - perhaps a bit of angry motivation will now result in an increased effort to ensure you're not in that position again!  As long as there were no physical confrontations or incidents - I see nothing wrong with a floor rush in celebration!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Getting upset over fans rushing the court, says more about the people who get upset than those rushing the court.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+2 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

People upset about court rushing are as bad as people that tweet at high school recruits

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

ScarletGray43157's picture

It is part of College Basketball.  It has happened at Ohio State too.  There was a video on another thread at this site that I saw last night that showed it happening after the game where Matt Sylvester and OSU knocked off Illinois when they were #1.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

+1 HS
Deadly Nuts's picture

That's different... Illinois was 29-0 ranked #1 at the time.


PAWEST1202's picture

I was a part of the horde that rushed the field following the real game of the century (1 vs 2 Ohio State -TTUN in 2006). I like to think that spontaneous act of extreme fandom was in our small way sharing our excitement and gratitude with the Team that gave us such a memorable (and freezing) November afternoon

brandonbauer87's picture

So very true. I was part of the group that rushed after Braxton's bomb to Devin beat Wisconsin in 2011. Honestly, the game probably isn't considered "deserving" of such antics. The beautiful part is that no one plans it, it just happens. And there is no better feeling than standing on the field and singing Carmen Ohio. 

route4buckeye's picture

I was in that group too. We as fans and the team had a horrible 10 months. It was just a collective sigh of relief. Great moment.

+2 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

I've never hugged so many total strangers in my life. Great moment indeed. 

+1 HS
TossTrap's picture

I actually thought it was funny. But I confess that shortly after I felt a little sad and embarrassed for PSU fans.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

AngryWoody's picture

I think everyone should have to wear suits and ties and alphabetize paperwork during the game. Then afterwards you can go to Fridays...if you're good.

Our Honor Defend!

+2 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

It's not that I was annoyed with PSU rushing the floor the other night.  I was just perplexed as to why they'd rush the floor when a) OSU is not exactly a great basketball team this year, and b) They already beat OSU in Columbus.

It's like when Purdue and TTUN rushed the field after beating eventual 6-7 OSU in 2011.  Why?  OSU wasn't that good that year.  Or even when some fans of our's rushed the field in 2008 after beating 3-9 TTUN. 

I have no problem with fans storming the court.  That fight the other night was started by a butthurt player from the losing team.  If you're concerned about your safety, then don't rush.  Not everyone does.

Class of 2010.

BigKat45's picture

Act like you been there. My wife is a Kansas fan, so I watched the Jayhawks vs. another OSU last night. You have a team in KU. Which has already won a 10th straight Big 12 title outright, and an Ok. St. team that has underperformed so wildly with a returning Marcus Smart that they rush the court after that W? It's pathetic. I suppose PSU has so few instances where they can actually do it that they've got to get their kicks in while they can, but color me unimpressed. There are a very few instances where it's warranted; I hope Buckeye fans don't sink down to this level of 'we beat a team that is ranked higher than us in this week's poll, we should storm the court' mediocrity.

"Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” - Urban

PittBuckeye's picture

Rushing the court after you beat a team for the second time in a year is stupid to me. And a 22 ranked team ontop of it. 

route4buckeye's picture

It was their Senior night...

BukFan's picture

Agree, it was a big game to their seniors. 

-1 HS
Ashtabula's picture

There needs to be a system in place to get both teams off the floor prior to letting fans storm it. Even the home team deserves the chance to exit the court if they wish.

Jack Fu's picture

If players aren't allowed to go into the stands, fans should not be allowed on the court.

Fogt13's picture

If you watched any other games this weekend after the court storming fight that broke out in the WAC, most schools had ushers that held people away from the benches so the teams can shake hands and exit with out having to move through the mob. That is a fair comprimise I think. I also have stormed courts, never with any intent to harm anyone but if I were a rival team on the road and the court got stormed I would be trying to get out as fast as possible. You  never know what some crazy super fans will try to do.

Go Buckeyes! Go Bengals! Go Reds!
My true love will always be Rosie

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

You  never know what some crazy super fans will try to do.

Try to sell pictures of themselves to the opposing team?