Happy Monday - Today, I want to try and touch on the elephant in the room...“storming the field...or arena I should say”.
Before I even begin, I want to preface all of this by saying, I’m just trying to sort out my feelings about what happened yesterday, too. I know I often use this platform to touch on nuanced subjects and probably offer very little in terms of answers. I apologize in advance if I make anyone upset by doing that. Like all of you, I’m just sorting it all out and unfortunately for all of you (or fortunately for those that hate my guts and think I’m a fool), I like to write it down for others to read and critique and send me emails in response.
At the end of the day, I’m just a guy with a keyboard and a brain and an undying fandom for Iowa athletics... even when it seems like I’m mostly confused with my brain and my undying fandom for Iowa athletics.
Look, I fully admit that rushing/storming the field/arena is both fun and dumb and exciting and dangerous. I understand and get both sides of this ongoing argument that puts the team that rushed against everyone else. Like it or not, it’s part of the fabric of college sports and probably will be as long as there’s not a giant pane of glass in front of the grandstands.
It’s hard for me to condemn anyone wanting to participate in this collegiate ritual, because, I myself rushed the field with reckless abandon several times during my time on campus. While I (thankfully) couldn’t record myself doing it on my Motorola RAZR or LG Chocolate and was able to keep my head on a fully effing swivel, I can fully admit even as a 35-year old human that I effing loved it.
2008 comes to mind first. Unlike some of the cohorts in the Kinnick stands, I realized there was time left on the clock after that epic, heart sliding (get it?), clutch, game winning kick and unlike some of the, lets call them, unaware individuals that jumped the gun, I waited for the right time. I was teetering on the edge of the barricade as if I was holding back the fans behind me. You could hear “security” telling us that we “cannot rush the field”... but we knew there was nothing they could do to stop the rush. In fact, if I remember correctly, there were light chants of “YOU CAN’T STOP US” as we caressed back and forth like a wave of black and green. Dressed in my “The Pose is Going Greene Vote 23” shirt and stylish black North Face underneath, I blitzed the field as the clock struck 0:00 as if I was Adrian Clayborn and celebrated with all of Iowa City. I remember rubbing shoulders with players shoulder pads. I remember seeing Ricky. I remember watching fans slap multiple players on the helmets and thinking to myself that that could be problematic. I saw some people get trampled and get back up as if they just participated in the worst kind of Oklahoma Drill. It was brutal and beautiful and riveting and scary all at once.
I laid on the Kinnick turf and pretended to do a snow angel as I reveled in a big time Hawkeye win and ruining the future of the then No. 3 team in the country.
It was glorious.
And then I walked back into the stands, out of Kinnick Stadium and to Sports Column. No harm. No foul.
I’m sure that wasn’t the case for some. I’m sure some people sustained some injuries. I’m sure a player or two got the short end of the stick. But did I think about that once as I drained a Big Beer and rehashed the win?
Not a chance.
Oh to be 19 again.
I looked back on a few more of those moments as I kept watching the replay of Caitlin Clark getting her bell rung. Look, some of you are going to be pissed I’m even saying this (sorry), but I understand that Ohio State fan and I understand why she was maybe a little shell shocked once she got up and realized she ran over one of the best basketball players in the country and decided to go celebrate instead. Rushing the field is an intoxicating feeling and you’re being pulled by that natural need to celebrate with your tribe. It’s engrained in us.
It’s a rush...literally.
In the same breath, I can fully admit that as a 35-year old human that is now responsible for two young children, I can see that’s its absolutely dangerous and scary and could cause some real damage to both the fans and the players and coaches and security staff who’s job it is to try and dissuade hundreds of thousands of people to not do something they are very much intent on doing.
It’s not entirely Susan’s fault either. This might be a bad example, but I’ve now seen my 18-month old rush at toys/balls being scattered about out of a trash can (Little Gym what up!) with an onslaught of other 18-month old's and as most mothers and fathers can attest, everyone’s just a little different when it comes being able to run, jog, jump, hop, dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge while running directly at ONE thing.
Not everyone’s Barry Sanders.
Collisions happen. And sometimes they happen HARD.
2010 comes to mind next. I was a little bit older, a little bit wiser. Iowa beat the life out of No. 5 Michigan State all game long. I knew then and I know now, it wasn’t really the best “rush the field” game. It felt like salt in the wound. But I got caught up in the student section and when there are 35 rows behind you pushing their way down, who was I to stop them. Plus one of my best friends in the world kept telling me “F*&% it, we’re going!” and so I said “F$&* it, we’re going!” too.
It was less people than Penn State, I remember that vividly. Mostly students if my brain serves me well. But what I do remember is feeling like Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards. I was locked in the epicenter of the rush. Players were screaming to let them get out. We all knew this was stupid. I wanted to get out too. I hated being pushed and pulled by a mass that had no bones or brains.
But we won and beat a team ranked higher than us and thus is life in college athletics.
I guess what I’m trying to say is... we, as Iowa Hawkeye fans, are guilty of this “problem” too. So is every other program in major college athletics. If you win a big game against a ranked opponent or a ranked rival, odds are, you rushed SOMETHING.
Hell, if you think I wasn’t celebrating right next to Jarryd Cole, on Senior Night in Carver Hawkeye after they beat No. 6 Purdue who was playing for a shot at a Big Ten title, you’re absolutely crazy!
Look, my heart sank yesterday, too. It’s totally unfair that CC got cold clocked and hit the floor. It SUCKED seeing her get carried off the floor by her teammates. The girl just played her ass off and potentially had the flu to go with it and after all of that for her to have to worry about getting blindsided by “Susan and her iPhone” (who is sprinting full speed) as you’re just trying to get to the locker room isn’t fair. It’s not where the national, social media and anger mob spotlight should’ve been focusing on after that amazing performance by both Ohio State and our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes...
The officiating on the other hand...
That fan was caught up in the moment like so many of us have been too. Ohio State played a hell of a game at home in front of a sold out crowd and both teams put on an all-timer. I’m being serious... even in a loss, that might’ve been one of my favorite Iowa basketball games I’ve ever watched.
I don’t blame her for adhering to the pull of beating one of the best teams in the country that also has the best player in the country on it. That type of game, that type of win, well, is pretty damn rush worthy.
If I was 18-25, I probably would’ve rushed too.
That’s not true... as attested above, I would’ve rushed too.
So I understand “Susan’s” need to bull rush The Schott floor. Hopefully she’s learned from this and next time puts her phone down and looks where she’s going. In fact, I hope we all put our phones down and look where we’re going (Maybe that’s the real rule we should all put in place?).
I also understand how stupid and dangerous storming/rushing is and why a lot of people are pissed off about it.
I was pissed off about it too. If CC would’ve gotten seriously injured, this Musing probably would’ve been VERY, VERY different. I probably would’ve been calling for heads.
Nuance is confusing.
Such is life.
But, thankfully, that isn’t the case and instead, I can sit here and be thankful once again that I get to be a fan of one of the greatest athletes this university will ever produce. I can be grateful that she seemingly is 100% healthy and once again took the highest of high roads and understands that same nuance I’m trying to balance in my head but is IN IT... and I simply watched from my couch while simultaneously spilling chip crumbs on my infants head:
So with that, I simply look forward to Senior Day when this team has a little extra locker room material when Ohio State comes back to town.
And I also implore all of you to please, look where you’re going.