I received some strong feedback from yesterday’s gallery of the rioting in Vancouver in the wake of the Canucks’ Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Finals. My original intention wasn’t to blame hockey fans for the disgusting display of violence and societal breakdown, because I know that there’s a deeper reason behind this riot and others that we’ve seen over the years. It’s not about sports as much as it’s about people just being generally unhappy.
Hold on, someone just threw a brick covered in feces through my window. Ah, apparently I’m wrong and the rioting is indeed the fault of sports fans. Male sports fans with tiny penises, to be precise.
“People invest themselves, their identity, very much in the sports clubs,” explained Professor Ervin Staub, a psychologist and the founder of the program in Psychology of Peace and Violence at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “There is evidence that when a team loses, fans get a little depressed and when the team wins, they get a little high.”
Such biological effects, Staub explained, are directly linked to behaviors. Losers feel “diminished” and “powerless,” he said, and people then become tempted to “use destructive means rather than constructive means to regain one’s sense of effectiveness.” So they lash out. (Maybe the team lost, but I can bust a department store window!) (MSNBC)
To blame Vancouver’s riot solely on sports fans is lazy and unfair. This isn’t about thousands of young people being pissed off that the Canucks lost. Sure, it doesn’t help that they lost and it certainly gives people a good excuse to go out and get stupid, but this is about something so much bigger. All those people flipping cars, lighting fires, fighting each other, smashing windows and pillaging stores don’t give a crap about a hockey game. They’re pissed off at life.
You can look through hundreds of photos from Wednesday’s disaster and you’ll notice a very simple theme – the majority of people wearing hockey-related items are in the background. The people causing the damage are sociopathic anarchistic losers who hate their parents and the government because they’re so rebellious and unique, but in reality they’re conformist dicks. This wasn’t about sports and losing and lowered testosterone as much as it was about poor kids lashing out at an unfair society.
Seriously, do you think this guy could even tell you how many goals Roberto Luongo surrendered?
To say that the outcome of Game 7 didn’t play a role in this would be foolish. But Dr. McSmartypants blaming sports entirely on the destruction and chaos in Vancouver is just stupid. Sports riots aren’t new. They’ve happened before in the United States and they’ve taken place in plenty of other countries, and they happen after wins and losses.
Look at the riots in Detroit when the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 1990. People weren’t shooting and stabbing each other because they were happy. It was a sign of the instability of the city’s socioeconomic structure. But sports are the easiest scapegoat for building a scientific case.
Hell, look at Montreal in 1986, 1993 and 2008. Three Stanley Cup victories and three riots. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1998 and the city rioted. The Boston Red Sox pulled off the most famous playoff comeback in sports history in 2004 against the New York Yankees, and the city rioted. The Sox hadn’t even won the World Series yet, but they rioted. Philadelphia Phillies fans rioted in 2008 after winning the World Series. There’s certainly a standard that has been set over the last 30 years, but saying that losing causes anger and violence is absurd. Winning should invoke joy and brotherly love, but it instead causes anger and violence. Go figure.
Win or lose, riots ensue and the “experts” blame sports because it’s convenient. For instance, Time has a nice little rundown of memorable riots with this blurb about Vancouver’s situation:
Hundreds of pissed-off hockey fans rioted on the streets of central Vancouver on June 15, after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins.
It’s just hockey fans, right? Not pissed off kids from poor, uneducated backgrounds lashing out at the “man” and the “system” because they feel like they’ve been wronged? The real hockey fans were dragging their feet and hanging their heads as they sulked and dreamed of Luongo being run over by a zamboni. But for the convenience of an easy op-ed piece, the real hockey fans were the shirtless punks and the anarchists with their faces covered, because someone or something needs to be blamed.
So let’s blame sports. Easy enough.
UPLIFTING UPDATE: Buzzfeed has a gallery of 40 photos of people cleaning up Vancouver and showing love for their city. Except I take offense to the line about drinking and rioting. Blaming drinking is as lazy as blaming sports. All the drunks did was piss on stuff, so it was like they were fire-proofing their city.
(Images via The National Post)