clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Leaving the court early: Safety or bad sportsmanship?

Kentucky players left the court early, knowing that Auburn fans were going to rush the floor. However, the move has drawn a lot of criticism.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

To me, it really isn't an argument.

Coach Calipari's move to tell many of Kentucky's players to get off the floor before the impending court storm by Auburn fans Saturday was an intelligent move on Calipari's part and helped to ensure the safety of players, while lowering the risk of a possible altercation.

I understand why some viewed it as poor sportsmanship, but court storming is a dangerous business. No matter how many pleas came from the PA system, nobody was going to stop the Auburn fans from rushing the court.

But for all the enthusiasm and excitement that comes when a team like Auburn beats a team like Kentucky, court storming is still a risky business that can have serious consequences. If you don't believe me, you must not have read the story of Joe Kay. Or the Des Moines Register columnist that suffered a broken leg during a court storming.

I won't waste my energy typing my stance on court storming, as I understand both sides of the issue. I also completely realize why Calipari decided to remove his players before the impending stampede.

Could you possibly imagine the heat Calipari would take if, in a decision to leave his players on the court, a player was seriously injured? He would be heavily criticized, if you ask me.  That criticism would be on top of the looming fact that a key player could be lost or have their career (or life) derailed in a moment of hysteria.

I would not be surprised if Calipari's decision does not become more prevalent among other college basketball coaches. It seems like an easy way to ensure player safety during inevitable events. The NCAA or individual conferences would really struggle to stop court storms from happening unless major penalties are involved (which just seems silly) and schools seem to be content with taking a fine for a moment such as the one Auburn experienced.

I can see why some may misconstrue the Cats players leaving early as unsportsmanlike (I mean, the "Bad Boys" Pistons team kind of set that in place), but it seems as if Calipari wanted to look out for the safety of his players, and rightfully so. I do not blame Calipari for this decision, instead I believe it was an intelligent decision that other college head coaches should consider.