Championship wins and losses as an “acceptable” time to riot

It has become a somewhat common ritual (though it doesn’t happen in all instances): a team wins a championship and happy fans celebrate with small riots and civil disturbances. But the script got flipped Tuesday night in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 to the Bruins:

Almost 150 people required hospital treatment overnight and close to 100 were arrested after rioters swept through downtown Vancouver following a Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in the decisive Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals…

Rioting and looting left cars burned, stores in shambles and windows shattered over a roughly 10-block radius of the city’s main shopping district.

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said “organized hoodlums bent on creating chaos incited the riot” and noted the city proved with the 2010 Winter Olympics that it could hold peaceful gatherings. A local business leader estimated more than 50 businesses have been damaged…

“The destructive actions and needless violence demonstrated by a minority of people last night in Vancouver is highly disappointing to us all,” the team statement read. “We are proud of the city we live and play in and know that the actions of these misguided individuals are not reflective of the citizens of Vancouver or of any true fans of the Canucks or the game of hockey.”

The rest of the article goes on to suggest that people in Vancouver are shocked that this happened. But this brings up some interesting questions:

1. Why riot after the outcome of championship series and not so much at other times (like at the Olympics)? Sports do invoke a lot of emotions but as a friend suggested to me recently, sports help channel passions into non-destructive channels. So people these days get so worked up over sports that it spills into civil disobedience? Perhaps we are taking sports too seriously.

2. Could there be small groups of people in cities that are looking for excuses to do things like this and then seize upon the circumstances of a sports championship? If this is the case, then there are larger systemic issues to deal with. At the same time, it means that a city can blame some “bad apples” (“organized hoodlums” in the story above) rather than admitting there may be bigger problems.

3. I wonder how much stories like these continue to push people toward the suburbs.

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