After the Colorado Buffaloes took down the No. 9 Arizona Wildcats Wednesday night, the crowd at the Coors Event Center in Boulder stormed the floor in celebration. That is an embraced tradition when an upset occurs, for better or worse, as student sections and parts of the rest of the crowd empty toward the floor all at once.
Safety becomes an issue in those situations, and Arizona head coach Sean Miller called on the Pac-12 conference to address court-storming when speaking to the media after the game.
Here’s a snippet of what Miller had to say:
“Eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: an Arizona player is going to punch a fan. And they’re going to punch the fan out of self-defense,” Miller said after the game. “And when it happens — only when it happens — will everybody take a deep breath and say we have to do something to protect both teams so that when the game ends, we have a deep breath to be able to leave the court or at least shake the other team’s hands and let us get to the locker room.”
To some people, namely Colorado men’s basketball fans, Miller’s comments could come off as serious sour grapes after a tough loss. A player punching a fan would be a step too far and is extremely unlikely to happen, but Miller’s sentiment about protecting players from harm when courts are stormed is spot-on.
A reporter suffered a broken leg during a court-storming early this season in Iowa, which is bad enough, but it seems like a matter of time before a fan or a player suffers a similarly severe injury. Unfortunately, that may be what it takes for individual conferences, or college basketball as a whole, to implement procedures to keep everyone safe when upset victories occur and fans want to take to the floor in celebration.