The Safety Risks Inherent In Fans Rushing Onto A Pitch Or Court

Author / Mark Breen
23 Jan ‘18
Sports teams are tasked with managing their fans so that they don't rush on to pitches / courts etc. Those who fail to do so can face large fines. Is it really that dangerous?

I recently read an article about how a basketball team was fined after fans stormed the court celebrating the end of a game

In discussing the incident with a friend, they were of the opinion that it was a case of 'party-pooping' and that there was no harm in fans celebrating a win and wanting to get close to their favourite players in doing so and so on. 

I get where she is coming from but I asked her to consider a few different scenarios:

  • With hundreds / thousands of people rushing forward, climbing over seats etc. the risk of people tripping, falling, being trampled and similar is high.
  • Wouldn't the cover of thousands of people moving in an erratic manner like this provide the perfect cover and confusion for an attack on a player, for instance?
  • As was the case here, it's possible that a player will feel under threat and lash out at the on-rushing fans.
  • Children would be at particular risk in a situation like this.
  • Security personnel are likely to be quickly overwhelmed, which has been often proven to result in them reacting inappropriately / overreacting.
  • This type of spontaneous , mass-movement among a crowd can be misconstrued by others as a reaction to an imminent threat. This, in turn, can result in crowd-crushing and similar. 
  • Seats etc. can be damaged and broken. Once broken, they can quickly become weapons and missiles that can be used to hurt people. 
  • With security and management forced to focus on and react to this mass-movement of people, there is  greater risk that they will miss or be slower to respond to other issues that arise at the same time.
  • The players will likely be both exhausted and experiencing the effects of adrenaline. Both are likely to have an impact on their own behaviour and how they react to the crowd rushing onto the court. There is inherent risk in this as a situation. 

The bottom line

She admitted she'd never have thought of all those angles. 

I explained that she shouldn't really have to, in fairness.

It is the job of Safety Officers and #eventprofs like us to consider these things and plan and manage our events effectively so that situations that increase risks and likelihood of energy do not arise.