Ignore Rick Reilly, Kids: Keep on Rushing the Court

Aaron GreenCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - FEBRUARY 15:  Fans rushed the court around Joe Trapani #12 of the Boston College Eagles after the Eagles upset the Duke Blue Devils on February 15, 2009 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Boston College defeated Duke 80-74.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Scarlet and Gray faithful stormed the court Tuesday night at the beckoning of David Lighty and Evan Turner. Both could be seen waving their arms and mouthing towards the “Nuthouse Student Section” telling the students, “Come on, let’s celebrate.”

Ohio State had just captured part of its third regular-season Big Ten title in five years. Fans ran on to the court in an attempt to celebrate with the team that they so dearly loved and cheered for. In a sense, the students felt themselves as part of the team. Even the public address announcer, when the starting lineups for the respective teams are being announced, introduces the “Nuthouse Student Section” as the team’s sixth man. 

The Big Ten title did not just belong to the players; it belonged to the Ohio State students and fans of the Buckeyes, many of whom came out each game and showed support for their team through chants and t-shirts that united them with the Buckeye hoopsters. After all, it was Fan Appreciation Night.

Furthermore, the first 2,000 students to show up to the Schottenstein Center were given a free Club Tril t-shirt. Club Tril is short for Club Trillion, a blog written by senior Ohio State reserve Mark Titus. Many students consider Titus as one of their own, a champion of the common guy.

Titus is a walk-on to the basketball team who uses his spot on the bench to tell the Ohio State students what the view is like through his blog Club Trillion. The blog really makes the students feel like they are part of the team.

Tuesday, a Big Ten title was at stake. Add in the fact that it was senior night, celebrating the accomplishments of five Buckeye seniors dressing for their last home game, and you have a special atmosphere. An atmosphere that only the people in attendance and true Ohio State fans understand. 

This leads me to the real point of this column. As I was going through my daily routine of checking out ESPN.com, I came across a column written by ESPN The Magazine writer Rick Reilly. Reilly claimed that rushing the court in college basketball has gotten out of hand. He believes that it is happening far too much and offers, basically, a “Constitution” on court storming, complete with amendments.

Tuesday night, I was a part of the celebration inside the Schottenstein Center. When the students and fans decided to rush the court, we were doing so because it seemed and felt like the right thing to do. There was pure jubilation inside the building and looks of elation and triumph on the faces of students and players. Rightfully so, considering what had just taken place and everything surrounding the game.

While reading Reilly’s column, I took offense to what he was saying. His writing was clearly in response to what had occurred in Columbus on Tuesday night and claimed that the students, who RTC’d, as he calls it, were wrong in doing so.

I am not advocating storming the court in basketball or rushing the field in football, as each action can be dangerous if not done properly. (For the record, the court storming that occurred Tuesday in Columbus was done properly and safely and as far as I know, no one was hurt.) I am, however, asking why Rick Reilly has the right to declare whether or not the students who RTC’d were in the right or wrong in doing so.

He was not at the game. He does not know what it is like to be a part of a special connection between a team and its fans. He did not know what the feeling inside the arena was like and has no right to claim that what took place was wrong.

Rushing the court Tuesday night was not a wrong doing by the fans. It was not planned and the motives were not to get a quick picture with POY Evan Turner, although that came as an added bonus.

The event was spontaneous and was urged on by the players themselves. They wanted to share the excitement of winning a Big Ten title with their sixth man.

We all know that this team is not the deepest, so finally having an effective sixth man on the court should be reason enough to celebrate.

When the “Nuthouse Student Section” rushed the court, it was so much more than an act of rushing to rush. It was about celebrating a championship that they helped win, celebrating the careers of five seniors, celebrating the individual fund-raising efforts by Mark Titus, who raised over $25,000 through Club Tril T-shirt sales for the A Kid Again charity which benefits children with life threatening illnesses, as well as celebrating Turner.

As the swarm of Scarlet and Gray covered the court raising Titus in the air in celebration and chanting “BIG-TEN-CHAMPS,” “P-O-Y,” and “ONE-MORE-YEAR,” they were uniting as one with one common trait: They were all Buckeyes.

I ask of Rick Reilly what he asks students around the nation to do: sit down and shut up? He is not a Buckeye, a Gamecock, a Demon Deacon, a Hoosier, or a Fighting Illini (all of whom he criticizes in his writing) and therefore truly does not know what the motives behind rushing the court are.