NOTE: I submitted this to the Opinion paper. But due to its late submission when the event was already past, the article was deemed not relevant anymore to be printed. It’s notable that it was written at a time when there was yet to be announced numbers of the injuries that occurred at the University of Houston Conference game.
So here it is.
Newfound power should not come with bruises and bloodshed.
“This is a new culture and new excitement level,” said Shaun Theriot-Smith, President of the Student Government Association. Theriot-Smith was present at the TDECU Stadium to witness the UH American Athletic Conference victory and the UH team earning a higher ranking.
He refers to the UH surge in empowerment with the UH victory against the Temple Owls, which was expressed by the act of fans running into the field.
The UH prospects have skyrocketed. This would mean additional revenue—donations—for the UH Athletics, and therefore, more fees are allowed to go to other UH organizations. With that taste of victory, it seems instinctive for students to express their joy by dashing onto the same field with their athletes.
But the results aren’t so clean.
Theriot-Smith was also there to see the bleeding lacerations on the necks of students. He was there to see paramedics escorting injured students outside the stadium. These are the results of the rampage.
And let’s not ignore the incompetent recklessness of the CSC security guards beating students running into the field, even after many students have bypassed them. UH’s decision to severe ties with them is more than necessary.
As the school deals with the security guard debacle, there’s more disgruntlement to expand on, regarding the students who broke the rules and ran out on the field, endangering other students in the process.
“(In) other championships (games), their fans don’t rush the field and cause people cause harm. If we as an institution and fanbase to be taken seriously in a powerfied environment, we should accord ourselves in a manner that’s professional and respectful of our team, athletes on the field, our fans, and our opposing team as well,” said Theriot-Smith
It’s not new that it happens. Field-running is a thing of UH victories, almost a tradition. But traditions have to mature to minimalize harm. Theriot-Smith noted that the field-running habit can be attributed to the old Robinson Stadium, which was physically different from the TDECU Stadium and allowed less dangerous obstructions to run onto the field.
It’s notable to distinguish the conference field-running from the field-running of the previous game against the Navy on Nov. 27. The Navy game was UH sponsored, so UH fans’ running the field to celebrate was more permissible. But the conference game was not; the liability was through the American Athletic Conference. So UH would risk fines if students ran the field.
The conference game also had additional concerns regarding the post-game stage. “It was imperative that students and fans stayed on the stands, so not to create security risk for the VIP (the Boards of Regent, Renu Khator included) on stage,” said Theriot-Smith.
Accountability falls on the UH Athletics for not spreading warnings in time. If everyone had the awareness of the consequences and the risks of fines, this would be a deterrent for monetary penalties against UH and physical injuries.
The conference victory should be a leeway for better sportsmanship. Theriot-Smith knows that at least students gained more awareness about the physical and monetary damage of running into the field without permission.
The UH Athletics are working to take better measures.
“As our program matures, as the student body and fanbase get accustomed to the fact that they are a powerful team, we’ll start finding a balance between being a respectful fanbase and honoring our athletes,” said Theriot-Smith.