Last week, I watched the home team Virginia Cavaliers upset their hated rival Duke Blue Devils 73-68. It’s early March so I tuned in for a little pre-bracketology scouting on the ACC. Virginia looked inspired. Duke looked overmatched. Come mid-March and tournament time, those descriptions will likely be reversed for both teams. Besides, whether I have watched any games or not does not determine my bracket’s success. Of the 32 opening round (now called the 2nd round but it will always be the first to me) games, I’ll hit on 23 and miss 9. Happens every year.
The game was exciting for me because you can never count Duke out of a basketball game and the prospect of Duke losing a game, a rarity the past 20 years, is gripping TV. What made it even more exciting was the atmosphere in the arena. There’s nothing like a close college basketball game in March.
I didn’t really care who won. The fans in attendance, however, did. When the final buzzer sounded, the fans streamed down the aisles and onto the court to create an impromptu mosh pit of bouncing hysterical collegians, faces painted UVA blue and orange, getting in a final work-out before drinking ‘til dawn and throwing up on the quad. Ah, college.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced ‘Coach K’) was quite upset at the Virginia fans storming the court after the game. He was more upset than if Ryan Kelly had been called for a blocking foul in the final 2 minutes of a 2 point game. His primary concern was player safety.
"Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first," Krzyzewski told the Raleigh News Observer. "Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that's cool. Just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.
"Look, do you know how close you are to. ... Just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches. 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 a [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."
The Atlantic Coast Conference has stated that it will review its security protocols in instances when fans appear ready to storm the court, but a more powerful body has already weighed in. The National Rifle Association has recommended that all coaches and trainers be allowed to carry concealed firearms during all away games.
NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre described the plan that he argues should provide adequate protection for visiting players and coaches as well as give any drunken frat boy pause before running onto the court. LaPierre believes the fear of guns, preferably high capacity semi-automatic guns, in the only answer.
“Lethal force must be met with lethal force,” LaPierre told the assembled media over the phone from his underground bunker.
When a reporter told him that fans storming the basketball court after a team victory is not an example of lethal force, he had a ready rebuttal.
“Tell that to all those trampled soccer fans in Ghana. Tell that to all the Who fans in Ohio. Had the visiting coaches, trainers and roadies been armed, the only dead ones would have been the trample-ers, not the trample-ees.”
“We need more guns to protect those kids, those poor student-athletes. Fans storm the court because they have no fear of being shot and killed. I say it is time to change that mind-set, if you really want to make the court a safer place.”
Former coach Bobby Knight immediately endorsed the NRA plan.
“Nothing enforces student discipline like the threat of popping a cap in their ass. Fear works,” barked Knight.
When a local reporter tried to ask a follow up question of the winningest coach in NCAA history, Knight just stared at the questioner before suddenly throwing a metal folding chair into the crowd of assembled media personnel.
“See? You’ll never ask a stupid question again now, will you? Now imagine if I had been armed. Press conference over.”
"If you limit the American public's access to semi-automatic technology, you limit their ability to survive," LaPierre said. (That’s a real quote, by the way)