The revolution began Monday in Manhattan. Not the one in New York City. Nothing revolutionary happens in New York City. Smug people don't start revolutions -- they're too busy patting themselves on the back for having the good sense to live in New York City.
This revolution started in Manhattan, Kan., and if we're lucky it will sweep the nation. It would be a revolution of cool. It would be a revolution of perspective. It would be a revolution of self-respect.
|Instead of the fans storming the court, Jacob Pullen took the party to the crowd. (AP)|
They didn't rush the court.
With that one single non-action, I'm hoping the Kansas State crowd has kick-started a whole new era of sports -- one that will shape not just crowd behavior, but athlete behavior as well.
The current era, the era I hope took its first step toward extinction Monday night in Manhattan, celebrates everything. A basketball player like Alabama forward JaMychal Green does something as routine as making a basket from 2 feet against Tennessee on Tuesday night, and that's not good enough, so Green screams into the crowd and pounds his chest because it takes considerable heart for a 6-foot-9 guy to score from 2 feet out against Tennessee.
It's not just basketball, obviously. When he's not getting trucked by Adrian Peterson, cornerback William Gay of the Steelers celebrates tackles by doing a silly little dance. Defensive end Shawne Merriman of the Chargers sacks the quarterback and sprints 10 yards away from the pile so the entire stadium can watch him gyrate in self-gratification.
Everything is a celebration. Catching a football and then popping up and making the first-down signal. Dunking a basketball and then slapping the backboard on the way down. Blocking a shot and then throwing your head back and screaming to the rafters. We celebrate everything in sports -- and I'm sorry to get all Confucius on you, but when everything is celebrated, nothing is celebrated. You follow?
They follow at Kansas State, where on Monday night the Wildcats defeated the No. 1 team in the country for just the third time in 108 years. That's a big deal. It was so big that Kansas State's fans stayed inside Bramlage Coliseum for 10 or 15 minutes, just savoring the feeling. But they never ran onto the court. This wasn't apathy -- this was a premeditated case of cool. As the final seconds approached, fans were yelling at each other to stay in their seats, to leave the floor alone.
To act like they'd been there before.
This isn't a Puritan plea to show respect for the other team. I'm not that naïve. But how about this -- how about showing respect to your own team? Storming the floor after a win says the crowd is happy, yes, but it also says the crowd is stunned. We won? We DID?
See it coming, people. Confidence is charismatic. Postgame shows of orgiastic shock? Not charismatic.
I'm talking to you, Indiana. For everyone else, please sit down to digest this information: The mighty Indiana basketball program beat historically mediocre Minnesota on Sunday at Assembly Hall -- and the crowd responded by rushing the court.
Minnesota was unranked. And Indiana is Indiana. Well, Indiana was Indiana. I don't care how low Kelvin Sampson sank the program -- you're no longer Indiana when your fans think a win over unranked Minnesota deserves a good court-storming.
Same goes for you, Michigan, where the Wolverines defeated No. 15 (and obviously sinking) Connecticut on Sunday, and the Crisler Arena crowd rushed the floor. Michigan, which has won a national title and been to six Final Fours, rushed the floor after beating the No. 15 team in the country.
It's a Big Ten epidemic. Wisconsin has been to 11 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but after the Badgers defeated No. 6 Duke on Dec. 2, the Kohl Center crowd stormed the court. You'd think Wisconsin -- which has won five Big Ten season or tournament titles since 2002 -- hadn't won a big basketball game in decades. See for yourself.
At Texas Tech, fans in Lubbock rushed the court after Mike Singletary beat the buzzer, and the Washington Huskies, with a 3-pointer on Dec. 3. Or not. Turns out, Singletary's shot hadn't beaten the buzzer, or the Huskies. The game went to overtime, where the Red Raiders finally did win, although without any late fireworks. Texas Tech won by seven points.
And the crowd rushed the floor again.
It's everywhere. In women's basketball, Towson beat visiting Maryland in December in front of less than 3,000 people and they rushed the court. At Texas A&M in 2007, students watching the Aggies' victory against No. 6 Kansas rushed the court at Reed Arena. Thing is, the game wasn't played at Reed Arena. It was played at Kansas. The crowd in College Station, Texas, had been watching the game on the scoreboard.
Again, see for yourself. See what we are. But to see what we might still become, look at Manhattan on Monday. Kansas State fans gave us the blueprint.
Please follow it.