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Gumption: The Ultimate Evil

Storming the court, rushing the field. These are good problems to have because it means you're on top of the food chain. Don't want it to happen? Don't lose to scrubs.

This is the number of points we will score this game...
This is the number of points we will score this game...

The horror...

Minnesota beats the Number One ranked team in the nation for the first time in over 25 years

Moribund Colorado (yes, that Colorado) pulls off the amazing upset of #2 Oklahoma at Folsom Field

Michigan, riding a lofty #4 ranking, loses to perpetually pitiful Penn State basketball

Cinderella gets Cindarella'd as the Dons beat Gonzaga with a 3-pointer 3.3 seconds left in the game

Storming the court, storming the field. To listen to some speak, you'd think Cthulhu had been wakened from his slumber in R'lyeh to suddenly unleash evil and eldritch madness upon collegiate sports; a new phenomenon devoted to endangering players' lives and mussing the well-coiffured coaches of America. An abomination has been borne of the celebratory impulses of 18-22 year old college kids...It must be stopped.

Don't believe me? Ask Consonant Overlord, Coach Mike Krzyzewski*

"When we've lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court," Krzyzewski said Thursday night after Duke was upset at Virginia, 73-68. "Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun, obviously you won. That's cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on."

The reason most proffered by opponents of court-rushing is that old standby, safety. Again, Coach K:

"Look do you know how close you are to, just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches," Krzyzewski said. "I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re (expletive),’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection."

"We always get yelled at. I’ve been called more things, about my mother or my kids; that’s something that’s happened for 25 years. That means nothing. Safety is something, and that’s what I’m talking about."

Huggy Bear and Rick Barnes are also in the apocrypha and anecdote and "what if" game:

"I'm not one for it because I've seen some things happen that aren't good for the game," Barnes said. "It's just something that good doesn't come from."

However, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he saw a bad thing "a time or two" from a court storm but the conference has "got a lot bigger concerns than that honestly."

Brett Scott, assistant at unranked TCU, whose team knocked off Number 5 basketball power Kansas (and whose fans, yes, rushed the court):

"It’s just a matter of time when you look at what’s going on now with Twitter and Facebook and kids start saying something that could rile up [players]," he said. "I think there’s a responsibility, first and foremost with the institutions, to make sure the visiting team is taken care of."

Going back a decade, I've found not one instance where storming the field in collegiate athletics led to injury to a player, to a coach, or led to a larger altercation or any of the other string of "what ifs" cited by Coach K among others. In fact, why hasn't that been the case. He's been the head coach of Duke basketball for 33 years. Has been involved in every level of the game since 1965, and this is all he can say --and others can say- "What if"? No. These guys cite "safety" in a vaccuum, or claim that they've "seen stuff, man" yet cite no specific instance.

Why? Because it's bullshit. That's why.

What then, are these guys who are anti-storming, really grumbling about then? They are grumbling because they are silverbacks at the top of the gorilla clan. They are the top predators on the food chain. They are the hunters who face every week as the simultaneous hunted. And you know, we see that here at the Capstone, as well. Not just in football, but in gymnastics, in softball, etc. To be the best, you must take everyone's best shot week in and week out.

I suspect most of this grumbling is more about hypercompetitive guys with monstrous egos and supremely talented guys getting derailed, and taking the loss (sometimes bad ones). But, especially in basketball, let's not pretend this is about safety: It's about the alpha getting his ear gnawed by the upstart and losing status in the pecking order. Don't want it to happen? Then focus, and more importantly don't lose to the scrub. No superpower maintains that status by sleeping with its back to the door. Storming the court is part of the game, and it's exciting. This isn't a new thing, folks. Nor, as Huggins notes, by a long shot is it the worst.

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*UNFAIR! WHY MOCK HIS NAME? Because, frankly, I tire of Googling it and then copying and pasting the spelling from Wikipedia.

**Football, does it make a little more sense? Sure. There have been documented altercations, documented fatalities (including, infamously, the SEC).