THE NATURE OF SPORTS AND VIOLENCE

We all saw what happened in Vancouver last night. We were all appalled.

What is more appalling is that we have seen it all before.

The car burnings, looting, stabbings, beatings and general rioting by a large contingent of disenchanted fans in British Columbia last night was but an ode to drunken fan stupidity. We have seen it all too often in our own city when the Laker’s win a title. The same scenes from Vancouver. The same riot police incapable of taming thousands who are hell bent on destruction. The same group of bystanders idly standing by, watching parts of their city burn and people both innocent and guilty injured.

There is one commonality in riots, whether they be for sports victory or defeat, political turmoil or in the case of the one riot I personally witnessed, concert fervor: high emotions and a group sense of entitlement. Sometimes this entitlement can be of an altruistic nature, as we see when the destitute rail against an oppressive government. Voluminous amounts of alcohol certainly plays it’s part as well.

There is typically a level of surprise that emerges when these sports riots occur. Call it faith in humanity or naïveté, we tend to look at these outbursts and say ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’

We should stop being surprised. It is no longer an abnormality, but a trend.

Just as the people of Greece feel entitled to a stable economy, the guilty of last nights riot felt entitled to have a parade for the Cup. For me, the question becomes, would this riot have taken place if the Canucks had won? I think history shows that yes, this riot was going to occur regardless of the outcome of the game. Once the ignorant masses had formed and the concept of victory as a birthright been instilled, you could set your watch to the first car being overturned and lit on fire.

Speaking from my one personal experience with a riot and mob mentality, I can attest to this entitlement and how quickly it can spread through a crowd. In 2001 I attended what was supposed to be a free concert by the band System of a Down in Hollywood. The concert never happened. The band never took the stage. Once it became clear that the crowd’s time had been wasted and there was going to be no live music that day, people became arrogant and angry. It started the same as the Vancouver riot. Beer thrown at screens and debris hurled at the stage. Then the large speakers were torn down. Then came the fires. I left as soon as I saw what was transpiring, having no interest in being a party to the mayhem or even witnessing it as a so-called innocent bystander. It was clear to me then, that this occurred because the crowd had decided that they not only wanted to see the promoted free concert, but that they deserved it and were downright entitled to it.

I reached the same conclusion then as I do now. You don’t deserve shit. You aren’t entitled to a goddamn thing.

I don’t know where this entitlement in sports originates. I can only assume it to be cultural. However, regardless of where it comes from, some teams have it and some do not. It does not appear to be tied to past success but only to present and future expectations. Plenty of fans of sports franchises care deeply about their teams and get highly emotional over the outcome of games. Not all fans carry around the entitlement that leads to rioting.

Not everyone in Vancouver feels so highly charged about their supposed birthright to hockey and their town’s victory, but we all knew before last night that it was fairly pervasive throughout their fan base just as we know it exists within Laker fans.

So temper your surprise, hang your head in shame for your fellow hockey fan and help me to try to figure out just where the fuck this outrageous sense of deservedness come from in something as ultimately superfluous as sports.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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19 replies

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head with just one word “entitled”. People now seem to feel “entitled” to so much that is not theirs to have. As in they feel “entitled” to be adults but sadly remain little children with no sense of right or wrong.

    No matter what city this type of thing happens in all it does is leave all those watching the events with a feeling of how bad that city is. The rest of the population of the city is blighted because of these events…but what the heck they were “entitled” to this right????

    But I will also put in a good word for Vancouver at the same time…I have been there and it was a beautiful city and the people I met were not kicking me or setting me on fire. Takes all kinds to make a city…just hope people remember that.

    • LOL @ “it was a beautiful city and the people I met were not kicking me or setting me on fire.” Well played.

      I have always heard wonderful thing about the city itself. I only speak towards a large contingent of hockey fans. Just like I don’t think a riot would happen in LA if the Kings won/lost the cup finals here (I could be wrong), because that entitlement is not part of Kings culture, even if it is part of Lakers culture. You are totally right in that it takes all kinds to make a city, but unfortunately to the average person watching the news, they just think less overall of the city.

      I have had many people tell me that Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world. I think that statement and what happened last night are perfectly mutually exclusive. Neither fact changes each other. Beautiful city, still has entitled asshole fans who don’t get a break just because the rest of their city is beautiful, just as the rest of the city shouldn’t get knocked for the entitled twats.

  2. Tim Thomas could have stopped the riots single handedly with a wave of his magic stick…because he’s that good.

  3. Just read that many citizens of Vancouver showed up this morning with their brooms and trash bags to help clean up the city…..so it is nice to know that the “good” guys are still around. And yes their were Canuck jersey’s being worn in the clean up crew.

    Kudos to the “un-entitled” people in Vancouver.

  4. Not being racist (I know what your thinking……if he starts it that way, he must be), but, after living in Los Angeles my whole life and seeing the LA Laker riots (and the Rodney King riots), I always blamed the demographics of the area. Now, I have seen the light!! When the riots in Vancouver were happening, all I saw was a sea of WHITE people. Yes, I realize we are talking about Vancouver where white is predominate; however, it showed me that no matter the race, the city or the situation….a riot can happen. Your not safe ANYWHERE.

  5. I hope the riots don’t skew people’s view of Vancouver and Canadians. This is definitely an embarrassment but it in no way reflects the mentality of the city. Fans were upset for sure but it should be known that people went downtown intending to riot no matter the outcome. It was all young males who wanted to recreate the riot of ’94, which is absolutely pathetic. The reaction wasn’t one to the result of the game but one that was just for the purpose of creating anarchy and mayhem. It was a very good Stanley Cup run and I hope this incident doesn’t take away from what a great 2 months it really was. Also you think you could check out my blog cuz I’d love to hear what you have to say. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/one-and-done/

  6. I’ve read a couple of things on the riot after Game 7, and apparently the Vancouver police feel that many of the people involved in this riot, were also involved in the disturbance and looting that happened when the Olympics were there. They went to this event intent on causing a riot, no matter how the game turned out. Unfortunately for these people they are being identified to the cops by people who recognize them from their Facebook pages, etc. I heard from a Canadian friend of mine on Facebook that the cops are pulling kids out of school classes and arresting them after ID’ing them from social media sights. Maybe this will start to put a damper on this sort of shit after games.

  7. Entitlement.. that is the word! That is/was the problem..
    As a fanatical fan after last year’s final game vs Vancouver.. I left feeling pretty low.. but never would I
    have thought to take out my frustrations with violence. Granted it was the first round, not the playoffs..
    I also was at game 4 in 1993 and although just crushed when we lost in OT becoming violent never
    entered into my being. I am honored to be able to take as much enjoyment as I do from this amazing
    sport.. but never entiltled.
    GO KINGS GO !!!

  8. this new format is bugging me!
    I constantly have problems logging in. this time it put in an incorrect usernane..
    ho wonder it is waiting moderation!
    GO KINGS GO!!!

    • It’s not a new format. If you type in a different email or website name than you did before or change your name in any way or I believe even log in from a new computer (not sure about the latter), WordPress doesn’t recognize you as the same person who has commented before and thinks you are a first time user and holds you for moderation. It should only happen once. I checked your comment and noticed you inputted different data from one comment to another. Just be consistent and you won’t have any issues, I promise :)

  9. I suspect that the riots would have happened even if the Canucks had won. Elements in the crowd came prepared for Mayhem. It’s quite upsetting to me as a Vancouver resident and Canucks fan. Perhaps a positive thing that comes out of this is the groundswell of efforts to identify rioters using social media. Millions of photos were taken and hours and hours of video.

    Two examples see this: http://www.identifyrioters.com/?photo=30 and this http://publicshamingeternus.wordpress.com/

    Several have been outed and arrested already – people here are pissed and I don’t think this is something that is going to be swept under the rug.

    peace.

    • I do really like that people are actively helping to bring these morons to justice. Finally, social media being used for good…

      Thanks for the links.

      Like i just said in another thread, if it really was such a small element, and people were wearing ‘riot 2011, t-shirts and signs as some have said (I’ve seen one such photo myself), then we need to really be looking at the police and why they were not better prepared. Or better yet, if such shirts and signs were visible throughout the game, why were these people not removed beforehand if it was clear their intention was to riot?

      Also i can’t help but hold ‘innocent bystanders’ partially to blame here. I saw one video of a guy try to help stop the madness, and he got beaten to hell…. While hundreds stood by and just watched. Why is it that mob mentality only works for evil acts? Where is the mob mentality to help? The mentality that came around the next morning when people sobered up and came out to clean? This could have been stopped earlier by a more prepared and competent police force and/or more active citizens.

      Again though, my blame on the bystanders is only there if we go with the line of ‘it was just a few people who were going to riot anyways’ instead of what i truly believe, which is that a few crazies started it and normally respectable Canuck fans got swept up in and added to the mayhem.

  10. Also i can’t help but hold ‘innocent bystanders’ partially to blame here. I saw one video of a guy try to help stop the madness, and he got beaten to hell…. While hundreds stood by and just watched.

    … Have you ever seen people slow down on a freeway to see an accident? This was the same thing.

    Why is it that mob mentality only works for evil acts? Where is the mob mentality to help?

    … LOL!!! For chrissakes, read again what you wrote, there. What are you asking people to do? Riot on the rioters? Brawl with the brawlers? Riot + riot does not = hey, everything’s OK now guys! No, riot + riot = more riot.

    we need to really be looking at the police and why they were not better prepared.

    … This is all that really needed to be said. This could have been your entire article, when you think about it. The police force wasn’t ready. They didn’t prepare. As John Wooden said … “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” They had the experience of what happened with protesters before the Olympics fresh in their collective minds, they also had the knowledge of what happened in other cities in the wake of championship-deciding games. They just blew it.

    which is that a few crazies started it and normally respectable Canuck fans got swept up in and added to the mayhem.

    … Some did, and thank goodness that many of those who were involved (Canuck fans or not) have been identified and will have their day in court because of it. That’s awesome. But, if you want to paint all of their fan base (or most of it) with the same brush, that’s on you.

    Not everyone in Vancouver feels so highly charged about their supposed birthright to hockey and their town’s victory, but we all knew before last night that it was fairly pervasive throughout their fan base just as we know it exists within Laker fans.

    … I’ve been a Lakers’ fan longer than I’ve been a Kings’ fan. I was outside Staples Center when the Lakers won Game 7 in 2010 against Boston and won the NBA title. 99% of us who were watching the game outside and having a great time being fans went back to our cars after the game was over, and got the hell outta there because we had a feeling about what was about to go down – we saw the people who were about to start all the shit walking up to join in the crowd. Those people arrived late, they had cheap/bootleg Laker gear on (or no Laker gear at all), and they weren’t even watching the screens that showed the game. We saw a few of those people on the news later on, after we got home. Sure, of course some real Laker fans got caught up in the rioting that the late-arriving thugs started. But to say it was “fairly pervasive” throughout the Lakers’ fan base is fairly a bunch of bullshit. Sure, it was a black mark on Los Angeles, just as it was a black mark on Vancouver. But to paint most of their fans with the same brush is dead wrong. It’s cool to hate the Canucks or the Lakers or whoever; hate all you want if that’s your thing? Have fun. But don’t feed me this bullshit about the “entitled sports fan” causing riots and/or violence. That’s exactly the thing that feeds this ignorant mindset about “hurrrr Lakers fans are thugs lawls”.

    • So you think riots Just always boil down to violent people looking for an outlet and using a championship as an excuse? I buy that for some rioters but certainly not all.

      There’s a reason I mentioned my concert riot experience and political riots, because I firmly believe entitlement is always at play in a riot. Its not exclusive to sports.

      If all you took from my point on entitlement is essentially “hrrr (insert fanbase here) are thugs lawlz” then I think you are oversimplifying the issue of mob mentality and excusing far too many people in an effort to deflect blame from people you like to positively identify with.

      As for the rubbernecking mentality, sure that is at play, but like rubbernecking I Don’t think its right. And There Is a big difference between rioting against rioters and attempting to subdue.

      Rubbernecking, particularly in this case is highly detrimental. Masses of people standing around watching has two very negative effects- it makes it much harder for police to reach the epicenter of mayhem in a timely manner and it also then makes it tougher for police to identify and isolate the real perpetrators. I don’t excuse or condone stupified spectator syndrome.

  11. I am sure that the Vancouver police are going to be taken to task over their lack of preparation for this. They simply dropped the ball here. I would also think that if you were the owner of a business in that area, and you didn’t board up your windows, and do whatever else you could do to increase your security, then shame on you too! Not that anyone deserves to have their business vandalized, but it wasn’t really hard to see this coming. I agree that you can’t paint all the Canucks fans with the same brush, but people have to stand up for what’s right, or they stand for nothing at all!

  12. I think entitlement plays a big part. It’s more complex than feeling entitlement to a sports championship in this case. I think at some point individuals who participate feel they are entitled some mayhem or someone elses property or entitled to stick it to society for whatever reason. The fact that the crowd and everyone else is doing it just helps them justify it internally.
    I don’t think it helps that people are as strongly attached to the collective society as was in years past. Much easier to torch a police cruiser when you feel no collective ownership of it.
    I also think that punishments through the legal system are not disincentive enough to stop this kind of behaviour. Shame and peer pressure have to be brought strongly to bear. A strong element of thug culture in suburban youth seemed to be at play when you read some of the facebook posts of the asshats who have been outed.

    • Very good points all around. Particularly that people don’t realize they are burning their own tax dollars. Perhaps that in some cases adds to the entitlement. As George Carlin once said, referencing a potential discussion with a policeman … “don’t I pay your salary?…
      I own everything goddamnit!!”

  13. Not everybody stood by and let the punks have their way…..

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