Originally created 10/15/00

Sound off on Sports



Fans who celebrate a big win these days are walking a fine line.

Rush the field and tear down the goal posts? Or stay in the stands and cheer at the top of your lungs?

University of Georgia football fans crossed that line when they stormed the field after beating Tennessee. It was the Bulldogs' first victory over the Volunteers in 10 tries, a losing streak that went back to 1988.

Was the celebration warranted? Yes. Was the University of Georgia prepared for such a scene? No. Did the goal posts need to come down? Definitely not.

I went down to the field at Sanford Stadium with a few minutes left in the game so I could gather quotes from players. I was surprised to find how rowdy the crowd had become.

It took some effort to push through the horde of fans behind the end zone. Once I got to the sidelines, I was joined by a few hundred of my closest friends wearing red and black. At one point, a play went off even as several people were on the playing field.

After Georgia held Tennessee on a crucial fourth-down play late in the game, pandemonium broke out. As the public address announcer pleaded for fans to stay off the field, wave after wave of people started coming across the school's famed hedges.

That's the problem with night football: too many people have a chance to sit around all day, consume large quantities of alcohol, and find liquid courage to do such foolish things.

Georgia is not alone this year with fans storming the field for post-game celebrations. South Carolina did it twice, and Mississippi State and LSU also tore down the posts after big wins.

But here's the deal: most regular-season wins don't warrant such excessive celebrations. I've heard fans from both South Carolina and Georgia say they wish those who tore down the goal posts had a little bit of class and acted as if they had been there before.

As a rule of thumb, the goal posts should come down only for championships or when milestones are achieved. Beating a 2-2 Tennessee squad does not qualify.

Don't get me wrong: college football is a great game, and it breeds great passion among its fans. But at what price? A University of Georgia student was seriously injured when she was trampled in the postgame melee.

The next time the goal posts come down, the price could be even higher.

Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337.