On-field celebrations invite tragedy

As ethusiasm in sporting events increases many participants are expressing concern that someone young and healthy is likely to die.

That person could be stomped or stabbed or impaled. It’s impossible to know the details, but the fear exists. Someone could die, and the buzz in the sport’s world is it will be because college students cannot follow the simplest of rules: Keep off the grass.

Death almost came to Georgia two years ago, when a pre-med major named Kristine Yu was caught up in the wave of Bulldogs fans who flooded the football field, causing more than $75,000 in damage, after a victory against Tennessee. When the party was over, Yu was unconscious and twitching on the field. She survived after three days in intensive care.

Death almost came to New Mexico State, where students celebrated a victory with the tearing down of the goalposts. One of the 18-foot steel uprights hurtled into the crowd, snapping someone’s leg.

Death almost came to Wisconsin, repeatedly, after a 1993 victory against Michigan. About 100 fans who rushed the field were stopped by a fence, unbeknownst to the thousands behind them who surged forward, crushing the ones at the front against the fence. Seven left Camp Randall Stadium in critical condition.

Fans aren’t the only ones in danger. After a 1997 victory for Florida, two sheriff’s deputies were seriously injured by rampaging spectators.

As recently as Tuesday, Miami (Ohio) assistant coach Jon Wauford left Marshall Stadium in handcuffs due to an incident with one of the hundreds of fans storming the field.

Coaches can’t go around striking fans, but fans shouldn’t get within striking range. Ever.

Maybe someone will have to die for universities to treat post-game celebrations as the danger zone they have become. The latest deterrents aren’t working.

At Auburn, security officials once turned back Georgia fans with fire hoses. At Florida State, campus police used pepper spray on their own students. Some schools make their goalposts slippery by applying a coat of grease.

Apparently unwilling to stop fans from rushing the field, Kansas State went in another direction, purchasing goalposts from a Chicago company that called its product “indestructible.” After the Wildcats beat Nebraska in 1998, fans destroyed those posts, which came with a lifetime guarantee.

Lifetime guarantee? If only.