Mike Sorensen: Rushing the court may be fun, but it needs to be curbed

Published: Sunday, March 2 2014 7:29 p.m. MST

As far as I could tell, none of the UVU players tried to fight the NMSU players and most high-tailed it off the floor as they should have. The problem was a handful of fans who got into some fisticuffs with a couple of Aggie players.

Some pundits have said what happened in Orem might turn out to be a tipping point in curtailing postgame celebrations. It comes on the heels of the incident this year when Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoved a fan in the stands. That was a different situation, but the idea of too much contact between fans and players needs to be addressed.

The Southeastern Conference has one solution: It fines the home school $5,000 for the first offense of rushing the field or court, $25,000 for the second offense and as much as $50,000 for subsequent violations.

That policy, which has been in effect for nearly 10 years, ”is designed to create a safe environment for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans," according to a league statement.

It’s a worthy idea, but not a perfect solution, however. Just two nights ago, South Carolina students ignored repeated warnings about storming the court in a win over No. 17 Kentucky and did it anyway. The school will have to pay the price.

Michael Wilbon, who stars on ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption," has a more drastic solution. He says the home team should forfeit the game if its fans rush the floor. While that threat might be enough to stop most folks, there will always be a few knuckleheads who would be selfish enough to not worry about costing their team a victory.

My feeling is that every league should institute a rushing-the-field/court policy with fines larger than the ones the SEC uses. That puts the onus on the school to make sure it has enough security and warnings to handle the masses that might jump out of the stands.

Another idea is to ban anyone who goes on the floor during or after a game from the venue for future games. With video technology that shouldn’t be hard to do.

Rushing the court may be fun, but it’s simply gotten out of hand lately. We don’t want our sports to become like some in foreign countries, where fields are surrounded by moats or fences with razor wire at the top.

For the safety of the athletes as well as the fans, something needs to be done to curb the court-storming. The sooner the better.

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