IOWA CITY, Iowa – I wrote this at the risk of sounding like a kill joy who doesn’t appreciate the very essence of attending college.
But believe me, I do.
College is all about the students first and foremost. It’s the great divide between being a kid and being an adult. It’s not necessarily the best four or five years of somebody’s life, but is perhaps the most unique stage of life.
College is about building camaraderie with your fellow students and feeding off each other’s emotion at public events like a basketball game. It’s about having fun and expressing yourself.
That’s why I used to think it was okay for students to storm the court after an exhilarating victory against an elite opponent.
I used to think that those who are opposed to storming the court are just a bunch of old fogies being too restrictive.
That changed a few years ago after watching one potentially dangerous court storming incident after another. And after being in a few myself.
Now I’m even more convinced after the court storming incident that occurred on Thursday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
Cyclone fans had reason to be thrilled after watching their fourth-ranked men’s basketball team storm back to defeat Iowa, 83-82. But that’s where the storm should’ve ended.
Instead, the students rushed the court and created another dangerous situation in a confined space.
And as a result, veteran reporter Randy Peterson suffered a broken leg in two places. Peterson, who has worked for the Des Moines Register for five decades, said on Twitter that he wasn’t trampled by the crowd, but that he thinks he locked legs with someone.
Even if that is what happened, the circumstances still were dangerous because people had to adjust to the chaos caused by the court storming.
Rushing on to a football field is dangerous enough. But basketball takes the danger to a new level because of the limited space. In addition to the mass of humanity that’s all moving in the same direction, a basketball court has obstacles in the way like cameras and chords.
Another problem I have with storming the court is that it happens way too often these days. It’s almost become routine to rush the court.
Iowa wasn’t even ranked heading into Thursday’s game, and yet the Iowa State students reacted as if they defeated a superpower.
I understand the thrill of beating your instate rival and that Thursday’s game was filled with drama and intensity. I just don’t understand the need for students to rush on to the court to celebrate a victory against non-conference opponent that isn’t ranked.
If we must have court storming, can we at least establish some guidelines, including that it should only occur after a victory over a top-10 opponent or after a victory that clinches a conference title.
That would at least lower the chances of somebody being seriously injured.
The host school has to be responsible for maintaining a safe working environment. The best way to make it safe would be to ban court storming all together.
But if that’s considered too extreme, then steps have to be taken to at least contain the chaos.
My hope now is that Randy Peterson makes a quick and full recovery. You won’t find a more passionate, knowledgeable or hard-working journalist than Pete as he is affectionately called.
He loves his job, even with the unnecessary risks that come with it.