The media section at the Dean Smith Center is behind a few rows of the student section, and in front of most of the student section, meaning writers seated there can spot a court-storming well before television cameras, if only because we're basically in the middle of it.
So, yeah, I spotted last Thursday's court-storming as it was developing.
Then I grabbed my computer, held the table and watched hundreds of North Carolina students rush the floor when the Tar Heels completed their 74-66 win over Duke. The students, both men and women, mostly just jumped around a lot before eventually filing back into the stands and exiting. The whole thing was harmless. I didn't think much of it. But when I returned to my seat after interview sessions with both Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, social media -- or, at the very least, the group of folks I follow on social media -- was still buzzing about the court-storming, with the majority insisting North Carolina students should never do such a thing because, I don't know, I guess because Michael Jordan played there like 30 years ago or something.
It's all so weird to me.
Why are people obsessed with who should and should not storm a court?
Why should anybody ever care?
Now before I get into why I think the obsession is strange, I should make one thing clear: I'm against court-stormings, which is why I believe every conference should do what the SEC has done, i.e., put into place a rule that fines schools if they allow students on a court at the buzzer, that way schools no longer allow students on the court at the buzzer.
Make a petition for that, I'll sign it.
And not because I'm some sort of killjoy.
Anybody who knows me knows I'm the opposite, really.
But tradition is never a good reason to continue doing something that shouldn't be done, and court-storming is something that shouldn't be done. Beyond the fact that students have been injured during such celebrations, it seems undeniable that eventually we're going to have an ugly scene that'll lead to a black eye for the sport. With more and more schools selling alcohol at games, it's only a matter time before a visiting player gets caught in a group of students and something unfortunate happens. Kentucky's Aaron Harrison, it's worth noting, actually squared-off with an Arkansas fan earlier this season; luckily, that incident was defused quickly. But what if the student was drunk? And what if the player snapped like Marcus Smart snapped at Texas Tech? Is it really a stretch to then suggest that a push could lead to a punch that could lead to a brawl? And, assuming you agree it's not a stretch to suggest that, then why should conferences wait until after something terrible happens to ban court-stormings? Why not be proactive in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of a bad scene that would scar college basketball in a variety of ways?
Again, make a petition, I'll sign it.
I hope that's clear.
But until then let's stop obsessing over who should and should not storm a court because, like I told you at the top, that obsession makes no sense. Why is it OK for Arizona State students to storm a court after an exciting win over a higher-ranked rival but not OK for North Carolina students to do the same thing under the same circumstances? Why is it awesome when SMU students do it but embarrassing when Indiana students do it?
Those oddly obsessed with legislating who should and should not storm a court will tell you that it's because North Carolina and Indiana are two of college basketball's most historically relevant programs, schools with national titles to their credit, and therefore their students should "act like they've been there before." But here's the thing: Their students haven't been there before! They're all students who are 18, 19 or 20-something years old, and the students at UNC aren't much different than the students at SMU or anywhere else. They all paint their faces, stand in line for tickets and chant and cheer and jump and get excited when somebody dunks or makes a 3-pointer. So telling one guy that he shouldn't get too excited because Dean Smith used to coach at his school while enjoying the excitement of another guy who doesn't attend a school where Dean Smith once coached seems silly, and I can't imagine students who attend North Carolina understand it, either.
They all grew-up watching court-stormings.
They were all pumped after a win over the Blue Devils.
They all recognized an opportunity to get on television, and they took it.
I saw their smiles, saw their hugs, and it never once occurred to me that they were somehow embarrassing themselves because, you know, Tyler Hansbrough won a national title at North Carolina in 2009. From the neck up, they looked just like those SMU students who stormed the court after a win over Cincinnati earlier in the month, and that's because they are, for the most part, just like those SMU students. That win over Duke was probably the biggest win most of them have ever witnessed. So they reacted like students have come to react after witnessing big wins. It was nothing more. It was nothing less.
So, again, if you want to ban court-stormings, I'm with you.
I think they're a recipe for a disaster.
But until then, let's stop applauding some students who rush the court while mocking others who do the exact same thing for the exact same reasons. For starters, it's just a weird thing to obsess about it. But the other problem is that it's mostly rooted in the odd idea that a 19-year-old woman should act a certain way because the school she now attends won championships before she was born, and, even if I live long enough to actually become a killjoy, I'll never understand the logic behind that.