Memo to those dopes who run onto the field during and after games, and then get pummeled: Hey, bozo, stay the heck off the field!

(Unless you're the Stanford band.)

This "storming the field" nonsense is becoming a plague. Almost every day somebody or some horde of somebodies are out there running around, essentially daring the players to pop them. It's rude and provocative behavior; it's the "Jackassing" of America.

TV viewers may look at players whacking these interlopers and think, "Oh, what brutes." (I have a friend, I'll just call her Sally Jenkins, who huffily compares the players and coaches to Bernard Goetz!)

But the stadium field isn't a place where folks congregate and schmooze. It's not a jogging trail, or a mall or a disco. While a game is going on (and immediately after) it's private property. It belongs to the players, coaches and officials. You enter at your own risk.

And believe me, after seeing the way first base coach Tom Gamboa was viciously attacked by the father and son from Hell, every player or coach on the field is at a heightened state of alert -- and they have every right to consider anyone who approaches them to be a physical threat.

So if you go out there, you get what you deserve.

That numbskull who rushed the field during a CFL game in Winnipeg last week -- and got dropkicked by a virtual Rockettes line of players from both teams -- admitted he was 100 percent wrong. "I pretty much deserved everything I got there," said Jody Remple, 22, adding, "What was I thinking?"

Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the doofus who ran on the field right after the football game between Marshall and Miami of Ohio, and ended up on the turf with a concussion. It's easy to look at some beefy football coach being led away in handcuffs, and conclude the coach is a sore loser and a menace. But the person who got decked wasn't some over-exuberant college kid who got carried away with his school's last-second victory; the guy on the carpet was a 36-year-old lawyer. What is a 36-year-old lawyer doing on the field, scampering around like a hamster? What law school did he graduate, Southwest Moron State?

Many of the people who rush the field in the first blush of victory aren't content to just celebrate their team's triumph -- no, they like to taunt the losing team, too. Taunting gets you a 15-yard penalty inside the game. But afterward it can get you dropped on your head.

I hear many people blame this appalling behavior on beer and alcohol. "People get blasted during the game; they don't know what they're doing," they say. But drinking doesn't explain it. If alcohol makes you run onto the field, how come you've never seen a group of guys at The Palm charge into the kitchen and chest-bump the sous chef? No, it's not just drinking.

And how come this doesn't seem to happen in other countries like it happens here? Have you ever seen people charge Centre Court at Wimbledon after a Briton wins?

Excuse me, Tony, no British man has won Wimbledon in more than 60 years.

Well, have you ever seen fans charge the soccer field after a big game?

They can't anymore. Fans used to overrun the fields. It was called "pitch invasion." Now, in response, there are huge fences and even moats around soccer fields. So fans content themselves with trying to kill each other -- unless they can somehow kill the referee.


Okay, let's stick to America then. The fact is fans on the field have become an increasing problem here, and an increasing worry. If it was just kids you could consider it some kind of youthful rebellion, like streaking. But what on earth is a 36-year-old lawyer doing running onto a football field? Have we reached some critical mass?

You don't have to look very far to see how sports-obsessed this country is.

Millions of people -- truly, millions, many of whom hold down responsible jobs -- are in Roto Leagues, where they are coach and general manager of their fantasy teams, spending hours each day poring over box scores to see if, say, Bengie Molina, had any RBI. Millions of people watch ESPN daily. (I hear a couple of fat, bald dopes have their own show! I guess some people will watch anything.) Go to a sports bar on any NFL Sunday, and you'll feel like you wandered into a revival tent.

The lure of rooting for a team is the lure of belonging to something bigger than yourself, belonging to a tribe and a cause. Rooting for a team not only provides some escape from the weariness of life, it can bridge the social disconnect. But in extreme cases the team you root for somehow becomes wrapped around your own self-esteem. If they win, you win. If they lose, you lose. It gets out of hand.

It's possible that people who rush onto the field do so to be part of the team they adore so much. It's possible they want to be part of the spectacle so they can experience it the way they think the players do. It's possible they're excited by the element of danger that exists in running onto the field, and they see running through this 100-yard gauntlet as an American version of running with the bulls in Pamplona. It's possible they think it's heroic.

But nobody's writing novels about these mopes. Just small columns pointing out how dumb it is to run onto the field and maybe get your eggs scrambled.