Thursday, June 16, 2011

To Riot and Stab in Vancouver

So I think it's pretty interesting to watch the world react to the post-Stanley Cup loss rioting in Vancouver. Vancouver, and Canada as a whole, has developed a bit of a reputation. While the gun-toting cowboys to the south struggle with national healthcare and start wars faster than they can announce them, gentle Canada remains quiet, focusing on logging, deer hunting, and whatever else Johnny Canuck supposedly does during his 11 months of winter.

To watch the city of Vancouver burn was unsettling. Countless Canucks fans poured through the street like a boozy syrup, smashing windows, flipping cars, and kicking assorted inanimate objects. Decidedly un-Canadian, people around the country are assigning blame for the insanity on myriad groups: the Canucks, the police, Canucks fans, Canucks "fans," alcohol, the city, the suburbs, the results of the game, and "hooligans," the mere mention of which brings to mind other tragedies.

But as I watched a video (hat tip to Copper and Blue, a superb Edmonton blog) of the riot, I noticed something remarkable. A couple guys were trying to defend the stores. It was mind-bogglingly stupid, to be sure, but noble nevertheless. While hundreds of complete idiots were mercilessly kicking a mailbox*, these two dudes were out there yelling "It's our city [you idiots!]" at the riotous mob. I honestly don't know whether this ever happens during LA's many sports-incited riots, but it seemed, to me, to be uniquely Canadian. Of course, one of the guys proceeded to get his head kicked in after stealing a signpost away from a vandal, but some other folks stepped into help him, which I thought was nice.

There's no real moral to this story. Idiots do as idiots please, so trying to figure out "why?" and "seriously, why?" is a fool's errand. Sports have always brought out the best and worst in people, and that's because the same animal instinct that makes us want to fight people at bars when their collars are popped is the same instinct that sports stoke and embolden. Getting rid of sports would just force us to find a new avenue to pursue that instinct, and overall violence would remain unchanged. But as you watch a game where men skating on sharpened blades repeatedly smash each other into solid walls in an effort to shove a hard rubber puck into a net, you can't help but wonder whether that violence gets commuted to the fans. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't.

I think it was a wonderful series, even if it was far more lopsided than the results might suggest. I think that the Bruins deserved the Cup, I think that Thomas will regress next season just as he did two seasons ago, I think that the violence in Vancouver was stupid, and I think that neither fanbase has a critical mass of people who've watched either team for more than 5 years. Nevertheless, I'm sure the residents of New England are thrilled, and it was nice to see a little emotion out of Canada.

*I can't figure out why anyone would kick a mailbox without some sort of severe complex regarding the postal system. I mean, if I'm rioting, I probably get a couple of my buddies to lift the thing and throw it somewhere. Kicking a metal box for the sake of kicking a metal box just seems stupid.

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