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.