All too often in my discussions with sports fans around the state of Wisconsin and across this great nation I've been asked why I prefer college sports over the likes of the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. and for me the answer is simple. The passion, creativity, and traditions that exist in the student sections and fan bases of college sports are things that can't be duplicated in many if not all of professional sports (soccer excluded). Part of that passion and tradition is the right of passage known as rushing the field or rushing the court. It's one of the time honored traditions that makes the college athletics landscape so much fun.
There are so many moments that are ingrained into your memory that involve this event. It's also that type of spirit that allows us to have that unique moment in sports when CBS presents us with "One Shining Moment" during the National Championship game. No professional sport could even come close to those moments and their meaning to students, players, and the regular fan.
I can remember being in the stands of the old Brown County Arena in December of 1998 as I watched the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix take down 22nd ranked Miami (OH) featuring Wally Szczerbiak in blowout fashion, 78-60. The students and fans had fun chanting "overrated" and rushing the court after the victory. It was the programs first victory over a top 25 opponent since they took down Cal in the NCAA tourney earlier in the 90's. Why rush the court though? The Phoenix were just 2-4 at that point and would have an 11 loss season overall, so a totally rush worthy event if you ask me.
Fast forward around a decade and the Phoenix take down Wisconsin 84-80 at the Resch Center for the first rushing the court at the Resch Center. While that one was a conflicted moment for me as a Wisconsin and GB fan since a young boy I can understand why they would rush the court.
As a Wisconsin fan I don't know if anyone, let alone myself, will ever forget the moments of the 2010-11 year as Wisconsin took down #1 Ohio State in both football and basketball and the scene of the field and court being swarmed by students and fans alike. Truly rare moments worthy of celebration indeed.
There's also a sad side to these events as well and Wisconsin fans will never forget the "Camp Randall Crush" that occurred as Bucky took down Michigan in football for the first time in a decade during the 1993 season. It ruined an otherwise amazing memory but led to better awareness and safety measures.
One of the best memories I have of my time at Iowa State was being in the 2nd row of the student section for the annual grudge match against Iowa in 2007. We won the game by hitting 5 field goals, taking down the Hawkeyes 15-13 as we hit the game winning field goal with just 1 second remaining. We rushed the field because it hadn't happened in a quite some time at that point and we all hate the Hawkeyes, right?
Man was it fun, but also potentially deadly and very dangerous. I mean that as someone that was in the group jumping the wall following the field goal. We were on the front line as we saw one second on the clock and had to lock arms to keep from getting a penalty for being on the field despite the throng of students continuing to jump into the small space between the stands and the side of the endzone. As the game winning tackle was made it was literally a run or die mentality as some 10,000 students made a mad dash to mid-field in hopes of touching the Cy-Hawk trophy or lifting players onto their shoulders. As we ran we saw many around us dropping to the ground unable to keep up, but thankfully there were those who had a sense about them in their joy and helped those that fell back up. Point being, it could've been very bad, even deadly had some not have a sense of calm in their joy as well.
So why bring up such personal memories? Because those moments are rare and amazing when they happen. However, lately there's been a disturbing trend I've noticed. It seems as if there isn't a SportsCenter that goes by without showing kids rushing the court. It's sad that we've seen students rushing the court for nearly any reason whatsoever.
That's a shame and it seems to me that these young adults need a reminder of just what rushing the court was and should be used for. So in that vein, it's time to unveil my guidelines for what constitutes a rush worthy event:
1) You defeat a Top 25 or Top 5 team for the 1st time in your school's history.
- These are moments that are historically significant and should be celebrated with a rush in my book.
2) You defeat your arch-rival with a last second shot, TD, or FG and you aren't the favorite or better ranked team.
- It's always huge to beat your arch-rival and as Badger fans it never gets old taking down the Gophs. But imagine not being able to beat your arch-rival, as my 2007 story shows it means a lot to the university and should be celebrated with a rush should you be the non-favored team in your rivalry.
3) You win the last game in your rivalry series.
- I know it could violate my just stated guideline, but with the ever changing landscape of college conferences there are rivalries that are ending and new ones starting. But in the cases of those ending it's fine by me to rush the field or court to show your dominance just one last time over your rivals.
4) You're a mid-major or non-AQ team and you beat any top 25 team.
- It's a rare occasion that you see a Top 25 team at your place if you are one of the vast majority of schools in college basketball that aren't in a "major" conference and nearly impossible in football. So if you get one at your place, even in conference play and win, you best be rushing the court/field in my opinion.
5) You win a conference/national championship.
- Do I really need to lay this one out for you?
6) You end a drought against a conference opponent of 10 years or more in football and 15 games or more in basketball.
- Again this could be a very historic event on the rise of your school and getting that monkey off your back is something worthy of rushing in my opinion. Why so long though? Because a decade in football means that's at least two full classes of students and players haven't seen a victory over that school and nearly a generation has passed by. In basketball you have to deal with games instead of years because conference games usually happen twice a year and so it's got to be longer than the football ones to really have meaning.
I think these guidelines cover almost any conceivable reason to rush the court or field if you are a student. Fans in general shouldn't be rushing unless it's the first two guidelines. Why? Because you're a dedicated bunch if your a fan of a team that haven't won games over top 25 teams or top 5 teams in your schools history and that's worth celebrating as well.
Notice that I didn't put winning against another top 25 team when you are ranked as well on the list? I mean, seriously, how many times this year have we seen that happen for no apparent reason other than it's "the cool thing to do?" Just yesterday we had a game featuring two Top 25 teams and one fanbase chanting overrated at the other and then rushing the court. If they are that overrated and you're in the Top 25 then why is it such a big deal that you beat them? Common sense, folks, let's try using it!
There was a lot of chatter around the Badger Nation before the Ohio State game about rushing the court should we win. What a ridiculous idea in my book. Wisconsin was a Top 20 team heading in to a game against another Top 20 team, where is that worthy of rushing the court? We just got done beating them at home last year in what was a truly rush worthy moment. That discussion proves why this list is needed. So, please feel free to pass this along to college students you know and let's start the discussion to get this to stop happening for any old reason!
Call me crazy if you want, but last time I checked traditions like rushing the court or field are special because they happen so rarely. So, it's my hope that this little slice of the interwebs will be a place for us to start a movement to get students to stop rushing for any reason at all. It's ruining the significance of one of the better traditions and is very dangerous if not done in an organized fashion, so it should be a rare time, perhaps one of just six reasons it's done?
Got suggestions or agree/disagree with me, leave a comment below and let the debate begin.
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