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.