NEW YORK – It’s March and for millions of Americans, that means March Madness. More than 60 of the nation’s top basketball squads will tip-off starting March 15 and if this year’s tournament is anything like the tournaments of the past, you can expect some upsets… and some hoops fans will seize that opportunity to storm the court.
It makes entertaining TV but storming the court can be dangerous and a New York personal injury attorney at Cellino & Barnes is urging schools and arenas to take action before someone gets injured.
“Putting yourself in the middle of a stampede is rarely a good idea,” New York personal injury lawyer Steve Barnes said. “It’s a terrible accident waiting to happen.”
Recently, Arizona Coach Sean Miller sounded-off about the issue after fans in Colorado stormed the court when Miller’s 9th-ranked Wildcats lost in an upset.
“Eventually what’s going to happen in the PAC-12 is this: an Arizona player is going to punch a fan,” Miller said. “When it happens, will everybody say we have to do something?”
It’s possible that someday a college athlete – taunted, attacked and jostled in a stampede – could injure a spectator. Whether it’s done on purpose or by accident, it hardly matters at this point. Miller simply foresees a lawsuit.
Although no one stormed the court, athletes have attacked spectators before. In 2004, NBA star Ron Artest and two of his teammates were suspended after an on-court brawl spilled into the stands. According to ESPN, one fan threw a Diet Coke at Artest, which sparked an all-out brawl. Several players and fans were later convicted of misdemeanor assault, including Artest.
Several fans filed lawsuits just days after the incident.
New York personal injury attorneys at Cellino & Barnes fear that a similar fight could breakout when crowds storm the courts.
“It’s a very emotional game and for many people – both players and fans – keeping those emotions in-check can be difficult,” Barnes said. “Although it’s often frowned upon to storm the court, it still happens and schools may not be doing enough to prevent it.”
Fans have stormed courts countless times throughout the history of college basketball but few of those fans ever face the threat of a fine. Barnes says some schools and athletic facilities may consider introducing fines or raising the penalties for those who storm the court.
Many of those who follow the sport agree that more actions need to be taken to prevent fans from entering the playing court in stampede-fashion. Not only could it prevent an unnecessary injury; it could also prevent a lawsuit.