On Thursday, I threw out a few ideas about the riots in Vancouver after the Canuck’s Game 7 loss. A sociologist who has studied over 200 sports riots suggests what happened in Vancouver was quite unusual as it followed a loss rather than a win:
In fact it is so unusual that Jerry Lewis, the author of Sports Fan Violence in North America, told CBC News that what we saw Wednesday night “might be called the Vancouver effect.”
An emeritus professor of sociology at Kent State University in Ohio, Lewis has looked closely at over 200 sports riots in the U.S. and none of them followed a loss by the home team.
That little quirk aside, however, Vancouver’s night of rampage does fit relatively well with the overall pattern of sports riots in North America. From his research, Lewis has identified five common conditions:
- A natural urban gathering place.
- The availability of a ‘cadre’ of young, white males.
- Championship stakes.
- Deep in the series.
- A close, exciting game.
It appears that the riots in Vancouver followed some of the patterns of sports riots (the five cited above) except for the fact that they came after a loss. Lewis and another academic go on to suggest that the rioting in Vancouver “was simply an expression of frustration.” Another academic also suggests that North Americans tend to pout after sports losses while European crowds are more liable to cause trouble because they see it as an attack on their identity.
If all of this is true, then the real question to ask is why this happened in Vancouver (and also happened in 1994)? Lots of cities go through big sports losses and there are a lot of frustrated sports fans every year as only one team can win a championship in each major sports. What leads to a different reaction in Vancouver? This sounds like it could be a very interesting case study.