AL HAMNIK: Court jesters an increasing concern in hoop hysteria

2013-03-02T17:00:00Z 2013-04-17T21:31:09Z AL HAMNIK: Court jesters an increasing concern in hoop hysteriaAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 02, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

Imagine running with the bulls in Pamplona Spain and tripping.

Now dash onto a basketball court, in a packed gym, after your team scores a shocking upset and instantly become a human pinball while getting elbowed and kicked from every direction.

Storming the court and acting the fool has always been popular among college students with the IQ of a bagel. Prep fans were more reserved.

But today, with the emphasis on winning at any cost and increased media coverage at sporting events, too many bodies in a confined area means trouble.

Occasionally, harsh words are exchanged and punches thrown while innocent victims — youngsters just tagging along — are caught in the middle.

Most larger college programs have law enforcement officials or security guards stationed at courtside ready to pounce on intruders, But at the high school level, it's usually a PA announcer asking the crowd to stay off the floor.

Yeah. Sure.

Good teams often elicit such fan behavior. But let's talk preps. Andrean, Munster and Bishop Noll have exceptional squads and rabid fans. Late in the regular season, all three stormed the court.

When Munster won by two points at Andrean, its fans swarmed the floor directly in front of the Andrean student body. These are not two programs that send Christmas cards to each other.

Andrean AD Bill Mueller couldn't be reached Saturday to offer some insight on this issue.

And when the 59ers won convincingly at Noll just recently in a matchup of parochial powers, both student sections had a brief skirmish at midcourt.

"They were like talking (trash). We separated them quick," said assistant Noll athletic director Ed Hreha. "In tournaments, some ADs allow them to run on the floor. I know you've got to have a lot of supervision on the rope.

"You could announce it (to stay off), but you've got to have staff from both schools there since it's mostly students storming the court."

Years ago, at the wildly-popular Calumet Sectional during one class basketball, ROTC students would rope off the entire court before and after games and stand down.

Fans watched, cheered themselves hoarse, but did not "participate" in wild finishes or upset wins.

"Historically, they've come on the court (here) but it's been pretty civil," said Hreha, a long-time coach/administrator at BNI. "If there's a last-second shot, they're still going to go through (the rope) or under it.

"It's spontaneous."

The real problems occur when both student cheering sections are extremely vocal, crude, and make it personal for the entire game.

With all that energy pent up, all it takes is a stupid act like wiping your feet on the home team's logo at midcourt afterward to set off an "incident."

One day, rope might not work. What's next, barbed wire?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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