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The NCAA Needs to Make Urgent Changes to End Court Storming in College Basketball

Credit: Matt Cashore/USA Today Sports


On Saturday, February 24, the eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils were upset 83-79 in a contest against the unranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons. As a wave of Demon Deacons’ fans rushed the court to celebrate their unlikely victory, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski collided with an unidentified fan, injuring the Duke star in the process. 


This incident comes just a month after Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark collided on the court with an unidentified woman amid an Ohio State victory celebration, knocking her to the ground and once again causing unwanted injury just a month before the biggest tournament in NCAA basketball history. 


The Duke star was seen hobbling off the court with the help of teammates, amidst a wave of seemingly careless Wake Forest fans who continued to rush the court while Filipowski tried to get off the court. “This gotta change…,” Filipowski posted on X following the incident. Duke coach Jon Scheyer immediately called for court storming to be banned, and Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes who in no way encouraged the incident, agreed with Scheyer.


“How many times does a player have to get into something, where they get punched, or they get pushed, or they get taunted right in their face? It’s a dangerous thing," said Scheyer in the post-game press conference.


It’s a question that has been renewed this season after multiple star players on the men’s and women’s teams in college basketball have been caught in the middle of a post-game storm with hundreds of jubilant fans disregarding player safety. It’s become an even more pressing issue as the NCAA’s March Madness tournament is less than a month away, which annually sees some of the biggest and wildest fan attendance numbers in college basketball. 


Half of the fans at the games could care less about basketball and are banking on a massive win from their team so they join the trend and rush the court. With that being said, and March Madness quickly approaching, should coaches and players be worried for their safety?


Fans Storming the Court

Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images


Courtstorming has been a massive trend in not only college basketball but college sports in general for decades. It’s understandable, your favourite team has just upset a higher-ranked team, or they’ve just won a sought-after championship that they’ve been chasing for months. However, for players, especially the losing team, it’s not only a form of taunting and a disheartening act, it’s a massive safety issue. 


According to an ESPN review, there have been about three court storms a week over the past three months in college basketball. For some reason, the trend has seemingly become even more popular over the span of just a few months. In a three-hour span on February 21, there were three court-storming episodes in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia. While yes, it’s rare that anyone gets seriously injured, it remains a dangerous spectacle. 


Even though it’s rare to see injuries, courtstorming has caused life-changing injuries for some athletes in the past. In 2004, Arizona high school star Joe Kay, who was a 6-foot-6, dual-sport athlete, was left paralyzed from a courtstorming incident. In a rivalry game, the Tucson high star secured his team’s victory with a last-second dunk, the night before his 18th birthday. In the ensuing chaos, fans rushed the floor, Kay was thrown to the ground and suffered a torn carotid artery and a stroke, leaving him paralyzed on the right side. 


It’s a worrisome story, especially when the increase in storming is taken into consideration as well. However, when all of these factors are taken into consideration, critics of the storming spectacle also have to wonder, how can rules be enforced on such large crowds of ecstatic fans? 


It can’t be economical or a viable solution to have hundreds of staff members link arms around the court as soon as the final buzzer sounds, and it can’t be fair on them either. This would presumably also incentivize fans to take it as a challenge to get past this barrier. It almost seems as if there are no solutions big enough to combat such a massive issue.


Fans Storming the Court

Credit: Lance King/Getty Images 


However, courtstorming is such a major tradition in NCAA sports, especially basketball. Fans would presumably be absolutely outraged if such a long-standing tradition was ripped out of the sport they love. It would not be wrong either, to assume that half the coaches and conference leaders who are against courtstorming, once rushed the court themselves in their college days. 


So, with both sides in mind, how could this issue be resolved, leaving both parties satisfied?


One solution could be to issue a fine to the home school under certain circumstances. Especially considering that the issue is not the safety of the home players, it’s the safety of the visiting team. 


If courtstorming is here to stay, there must be better protocols in place to get the visiting team off the court as quickly and safely as possible. Especially with March Madness on the horizon, at least some kind of measure should be put in place to protect the players.



Edited By: Josh Reidelbach


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