By Jason Menard,
The riots in Vancouver were not perpetrated by fans; instead, this ugly blight on a beautiful city was caused by cowards who used a hockey game to fan the flames of violence and stupidity.
All over Facebook, Twitter, and traditional media, people are criticizing Vancouverites for the horrendous actions that followed the Canucks’ game-seven loss to the Boston Bruins. And while the criticism is warranted, it’s also misdirected.
Yes, Vancouver Canucks fans were upset about losing the Stanley Cup finals. Yes, a dream season ended in a nightmare where the league’s most offensively gifted team brought an offense to the finals that was just, well, offensive.
But the true fans of the team were the ones that gave an ovation to the Bruins following the game. They’re the ones who stayed in their seats, commiserating with their fellow attendees and watching the on-ice proceedings with a mixture of respect and regret.
The morons outside, torching cars and looting stores? Those weren’t fans. And they’re not unique to Vancouver.
The people who sulliedVancouver’s name are simply vile, cowardly, destructive hedonists who use the cover of thousands of revelers to perpetrate their crimes. Most of them likely had no interest in the game; just the opportunity that 100,000 fans amassing in the street provided them. Win or lose, they were out to destroy.
This is not unique toVancouver– we’ve seen riots in Montreal dating back to the days of Maurice Richard. And the only reason Toronto wouldn’t riot is because the city would be suffering from a collective state of shock at actually making the finals.
It’s also not unique to the sport of hockey: last year’s Los Angeles Lakers’ victory of the Celtics was followed by violence and clashes between police and the growing mob; a riot following the Boston Red Sox’s 2004 World Series victory resulted in the death of a young college woman; there have been riots after Superbowls and it’s almost expected before, during, and after European soccer games.
And the reason why is simple: crowds protect cowards.
These riots have little or nothing to do with the game itself. Rather, the presence of thousands upon thousands of revellers in a public place gives rioters the opportunity they so desire. Where else are you going to find upwards of 100,000 people gathered together where emotions are running high?
And, unfortunately, the combination of youth, inebriation, and crowd mentality can sway some of the revellers to join the rioters – especially if they feel that they’ll be able to get away with their actions due to the relative anonymity provided by the crowd. Political gatherings and protests start out peacefully (thinkToronto), but it only takes a few people hell-bent on violence to change that perception.
Listen, if they televised open-heart surgery and 150,000 people were excited enough to crowd aroundTimes Squarewatching it, you don’t think someone who use the opportunity provided by the crowd (and fuelled by a botched valve transplant) to cause some damage?
It’s not about the sport; it’s about the people. That’s why trying to find a reason or a solution from a sporting perspective is doomed to fail. This isn’t about the fans that are packing the stadium, nor is about the true fans who have come down to share in a moment in time with like-minded members of their community. In fact, that’s one of the most beautiful things about sports – the ability to share a moment with someone with whom you have no other affiliation. You could be polar opposites in terms of politics and politics, but for those few minutes you’re sharing in a celebration that crosses all cultural divides.
That’s something we shouldn’t allow these cowardly punks to take away. Instead, thanks to the advent of camera phones and social media, we should be posting photos of these perpetrators everywhere so that they can be identified.
And once we know who these morons are, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No leniency, no quarter given – just a clear message that we, as a society, will not tolerate these types of actions in the future.
After all, cowards hide behind the crowd for safety. This type of rioting will decrease when would-be perpetrators know that the crowd that they’re using as a safety net will turn against them and be the very thing that ensnares them.
There are a lot of people, you included I’m afraid, who are trying to excuse sports fans from any responsibility for events like these. “Real fans don’t riot” and similar claims. That’s bullshit. Riots like this are much more common occurrences in the aftermath of sporting events than they are after other kinds of public events. We’ve seen this all over Europe, and plenty of times in the US and Canada.
The people rioting downtown last night were assholes to be sure, but where did this ludicrious idea come from that sports fans aren’t ever assholes? Have you ever even been to a hockey game or a football game?
With all due respect, I’ve probably seen more hockey games than you as it’s one of my jobs, so I’m well-versed in the asshole-fan dynamic, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not saying fans didn’t participate, but those who headed down with weapons in their bags weren’t looking to enjoy a sporting event — they were looking for an opportunity.
You’re right that this happens more often at sporting events, but I addressed the reason behind that. Where else are you going to find mass crowds like this? Peaceful protests often degenerate into violence for the same reason; and it’s not uncommon for crimes to be committed at large music festivals. The event is almost ancillary — the opportunity for anonymity is greater in large crowds where chaos can reign.
If it was a sporting issue why are there not more riots during less-important games? Simply because you don’t have tens of thousands of people gathered in a public place.i’m not absolving those idiotic fans who participated in the riot, but I think it’s fair to say the instigators weren’t there primarily for the enjoyment of the game.
A few thoughts to go along with a great post.
A lot of people have been saying it was started by a few or it was only a few people. Well by the pictures and overhead video it could be seen it was more then a few, it was hundreds or thousands that joined in with the looting, the damaging of personal property and an utter disrespect for the law. Call it “mob mentality” or whatever, the fact is these people who may have been regular people that normally wouldn’t have done this, have a low self image. They feel empowered by stupid actions like this and throw all good reasoning out the window. Its almost like they’ve reverted back to a primitive state which is pretty scary since you’d think we’ve evolved past that. By the looks of things it takes an event like this to just throw it all away.
Another thought which is pretty sicking, is people around the world riot for freedom and rights, yet we riot over a damn hockey game? People really really need to take a hard look at where they are in life and maybe do a reality check on what really is important to them.
Anyway my two cents, comments, etc…
well said. We need to be labeling the participants in the looting, burning, smashing, etc as criminals. Lumping them all together under the group heading of rioters also gives the individuals anonymity, psychologically lets them off the hook. Yes, we’ll still have the vandals/hoodlums/criminals who attend these events just to do their dirty work, but less “average people” will join into the mob effect. “Do the crime, do the time” – even if you were just one of 1,000 people doing the crime and you “only” did one act of madness. Criminal.
I’m not sure I agree with Shaun when he says people all over the world riot for freedom etc….I think that Jason’s points apply to riots period…..mass crowd hysteria and violence, no matter what the so called purpose of the gathering, is offensive and does nothing but tarnish all involved.