Column: From joy to sorrow

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sad news came across the sports wire over the weekend and it is yet another reminder of how fast celebration and happiness can turn to tragedy.

The University of Minnesota-Morris football team just completed a double-overtime homecoming win over Crown College.

Minnesota-Morris fans stormed the field in celebration and as the common practice is anymore the first thing the masses went for were the goal posts.

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While the sight of hundreds or thousands of fans gathering around the posts and shaking them

until they come down makes for great television it also makes for a big potential problem which was on full display.

While fans applied more pressure the posts eventually snapped.

However, instead of parading them around the field the crowd was quickly silenced when it became apparent that a young man had been hit by the falling post and was laying on the field with it still on him.

A group of people was needed to lift the post off of the man, but attempts to revive him on the field were unsuccessful before he was pronounced dead at the hospital later in the day.

Celebrations have long seemed to be a sticking point in football.

College teams do not want players celebrating after scoring touchdowns for fear of showing up the other team or their teammates in what is considered the ultimate team game.

The NFL doesn’t rule out celebrating but it will also not hesitate to slap big fines on players it perceives to be putting too much effort into it.

For the fans, I cannot blame them for wanting to celebrate with the team they just spent three-plus hours cheering on but I think you have to find a way to keep them off the field.

That said, trying to keep a pumped up horde from streaming onto the field is easier said than done.

Schools in the past have tried greasing the posts to keep people from climbing them, and many schools now employ collapsible goal posts that are taken down the second the clock reads 00:00.

These have all been effective to a certain degree but obviously nothing works 100 percent of the time.

If you have ever watched a college basketball game during March Madness then no doubt you have seen an entire student section storm the court after a big upset.

Once again, great television but it seems like just a matter of time until someone is seriously hurt or killed as the case was this weekend.

Answers are hard to come by at this point, but I can only hope that one man’s death can be a learning experience for so many.

Celebrating is an important part of any game, but it can be done in a positive way that doesn’t endanger others at the same time.