Homecoming Isn’t Worthy of a Court Storming, So Don’t Do It

A capacity crowd for a basketball game at the Bren Events Center is 4,984. During many athletic events, the Bren is nothing but a sea of empty blue seats with a few spectators sprinkled here and there. On special nights, the Bren can feature a boisterous crowd of one to 2,000. However, when a blue moon casts its shadow over UC Irvine, 4,000 or more bodies will cram into the Bren Events Center to watch a basketball game.

On Nov. 21, 2008, 4,206 fans packed into the Bren to witness the Anteaters host the Oregon Ducks. A few months later, on Feb. 18, 2009, 3,450 fans walked into the Bren with their ’Eater Nation shirts for UCI’s Black-Out Game, which needs to happen again.

Last year’s homecoming game featured a crowd of 2,620, and a few weeks ago, the 2011 homecoming game saw 4,070 fans.
Nothing brings more joy, excitement and energy to coaches and players than seeing the Bren packed with students, staff and the Irvine community. UCI students have the potential to create a dynamic atmosphere, which they have proven in the Oregon game, the Black-Out game and a few weeks ago against Long Beach State. However, the last two homecoming games stand out for the wrong reasons.

In the 2010 homecoming game, the Anteaters defeated the Matadors of Cal State Northridge. In this year’s homecoming game, the ’Eaters sent hated rival Long Beach State packing. In both of these games, when an Anteater victory was indubitable and the clock struck triple-zero, UCI fans went crazy, rushing the court and celebrating like UCI had just won the NCAA Championship.

That is the problem – fans storming the court.

In both of these games, there was no reason to rush the court. The ’Eaters didn’t win the championship, nor even earn a berth into the Big Dance. But fans felt the urge to storm the court regardless. No disrespect to CSUN or LBSU, but the Anteaters simply defeated the Matadors and the 49ers. No disrespect to these two Big West opponents, but they are not worthy of storming the court.

By rushing the court after the ’Eaters’ victory, fans put CSUN and LBSU on pedestals they don’t belong on. By going crazy after the win, fans sent a message that the Matadors and 49ers’ level of basketball is far more superior to that of UCI’s. By celebrating like the ’Eaters had just pulled off a major upset, UCI fans made a statement that they did not expect the Anteaters to win.

I am not saying that fans should not storm the court. What I am saying is that there is a place and time for it.
If the Anteaters somehow managed to host Duke, UNC, Connecticut, men’s or women’s or any other top caliber program, and somehow, someway managed to pull out a victory, then storm the court. It would not matter if the ’Eaters won by 30 points or one point, or if they needed a desperation shot by Mike Wilder from half court. You storm the court regardless.

The difference between Duke, UNC and UConn is that these schools carry a storied history. Every year these schools participate in the NCAA Tournament and a national championship is expected. LBSU and CSUN have made it to the Big Dance, but not even close to the consistent rate of the Blue Devils, Tar Heels or Huskies. If the Anteaters hosted these basketball powerhouses, they would be at least a 30-point underdog despite playing at home. This wouldn’t be the case with LBSU, CSUN or any other Big West school.

Unless the ’Eaters dismantle a top 25 team, don’t storm the court. If the Anteaters defeat a Big West opponent by 50 points, don’t rush the court.

As true fans, you should expect your team to win. Unless you are a Stanford Cardinal football fan going up against the mighty USC Trojans who were ranked No.1 in the nation, a 41-point favorite on a 34-home game winning streak, then it is okay not to expect your team to win. But other than that you should always expect your team to win.

Just because it’s homecoming does not mean fans should storm the court. Storming the court for every homecoming game from here on out would be like telling the same joke over and over, or like watching the same episode of “Dexter” over and over. It is funny, exciting and full of suspense the first time, but it just loses its meaning after that.

Next time you get the urge to storm court after homecoming – just stay in your seat.