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Park: Exploring the field-storming tradition

Last night, I watched frenzied fans storm the court after Wyoming toppled No. 5 San Diego State at home. It was actually a pretty impressive court storming, given that it took place in the bustling metropolis that is Laramie, Wyo. after a game between two teams with reasonably small followings.

The scene just served to remind me of a sad truth: I haven’t had the opportunity to storm the field with fellow Cardinal fans, despite my three opportunities to do so thus far during my time on The Farm.

During the 2012 USC game, I hadn’t yet moved into my freshman dorm and thus had more pressing issues to deal with than a football team that I’d never seen before. During the 2012 Pac-12 Championship, I had to leave the game after the first half to play an orchestra concert (I know, I know…) and experienced the field storming only through the rabidly enthusiastic texts that I received from my friends during the intermission of the concert. And for 2013 Oregon, I was up in the press box watching the fervor from high above the field.

Three field stormings in two years, admittedly, does seem like a fairly high number for the fan base of a team that counts itself amongst the nation’s elite. And I know that Stanford fans’ propensity to storm the field often has sometimes drawn the ire of many other fan bases around the Pac-12.

But should Stanford fans care? I don’t think so.

The storming of the field in football or the storming of the court in basketball is just a physical manifestation of the overwhelming emotional release following a game. More often than not, that emotional release stems from an invigorating upset of a top-five or top-10 team.

It is based on this reasoning that people criticize Stanford fans for storming the field against Oregon last season. Critics argue that a defeat of the No. 3 team by the No. 5 team in the country is not even an upset, per se, much less one worthy of a field storming. They argue that storming the field in such a scenario implies that Stanford’s fans haven’t yet embraced the idea that they follow an elite program that should be expected to win every game.

But why should an upset be the only thing that can warrant an emotional outpouring on the scale of a field storming? Where were all of the critics when fans of No. 5 Auburn stormed the field after beating No. 1 Alabama? By the same argument from above, that shouldn’t even have been so much of an upset, given that the contest was between two top-five teams.

Stanford-Oregon last season deserved a field storming for the same reason that Jordan-Hare Stadium poured onto the field that night following Chris Davis’ 109-yard missed field goal returned for a touchdown. There doesn’t necessarily need to be an upset of monumental proportions to stir up the emotional response necessary to warrant a field storming.

“Kick Bama Kick” created that emotion because of how unexpected and historic the occasion was. For a game won in such a fashion, for a team that had struggled so mightily the season before, for a game won over a Nick Saban Alabama team, it would be almost unthinkable not to storm the field for that victory.

In the same vein, the magnitude of Stanford’s victory over Oregon in 2013 was such that an emotional response capable of justifying a field storming was almost certain. Given the recent history of the Stanford-Oregon rivalry, with each team having broken the other’s heart in consecutive years, it was a given that the 2013 Oregon game would have an incredible significance to everybody involved.

It’s not just that; it’s that Stanford had always been considered the lesser team in the rivalry by college football fans around the nation. There were many saying that the 2012 Stanford victory was a fluke and The Daily Emerald, Oregon’s student newspaper, was quoted as saying that the difficulty wasn’t in deciding who the winner would be, but rather the margin of the final score. Nobody was giving Stanford a chance in the game.

And then Stanford jumped out to a 26-0 lead in that game, driving Stanford Stadium into a frenzy. That in and of itself would have been enough to warrant a field storming — an absolute shellacking of a seemingly unbeatable team. The fact that Oregon upped the emotional ante in the building by making the outcome hinge on a final onside kick recovery simply added fuel to the fire.

Best in the west. A field storming was inevitable.

Hopefully, there will be more opportunities for those in the future — and hopefully, I’ll actually be able to participate for once.

While Do-Hyoung Park says he’d like to experience field-storming mania, a man of his stature is liable to be trampled. Advise him on safe field-storming practices and give him the number of a good orthopedic surgeon at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tweet at him @dohyoungpark. 

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park is the Head Copy Editor at The Stanford Daily. Even though he is finally able to get into R-rated movies now, he instead chooses to spend his time writing half the sports section every week. Do-Hyoung is a sophomore originally from Seoul, South Korea and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota pursuing a major in chemical engineering. To contact him, please email him at dpark027 'at' stanford.edu.