Only infantile fans riot

When sports transcends common sense, it often means basking in the mindless euphoria of victory.

When sports transcends common sense, it often means basking in the mindless euphoria of victory.

But in Vancouver on Wednesday night, the ticking timebomb of fan disappointment went off with a resounding crash, at great cost to far too many people.

Being a fan means suffering more than your share of failures. In the National Hockey League, for example, there are 30 teams, but only one Stanley Cup champion. Defeat, and blighted hope, are sure to visit the teams and fans of every other team, to lesser or greater degrees depending on expectations.

In the case of the Vancouver Canucks, and their over-the-top fans, the outcome of Wednesday’s Game 7 (a Boston Bruins victory, 4-0, and the subsequent celebration of a cup win on Vancouver ice) was devastating.

For the players, who are hardened to the fickle nature of the game, loss often brings a resolute rededication.

For fans like the thousands who rampaged through downtown Vancouver on Wednesday night, the outcome becomes an excuse for excess, destruction and outlandish emotion.

Why would players, whose livelihood and professional status is determined by success in games, have a better response to loss than fans?

The easiest answer — and, maybe, the only one that matters — is that rampaging fans are simply idiots.

They are so intent on living in the moment that when the moment turns in unexpected ways, they have no coping mechanism except to express their frustration through violence and destruction.

The players have devoted huge chunks of their lives — and the greatest portion of their dreams about professional success — on the outcome of games. Yet they manage to keep perspective despite the seemingly impotent end to their endeavours.

The fans, who in this case did little more in sacrifice to the cause than to buy a jersey and fly a car flag, behave like they were the ones whose commitment, sweat and perseverance were dashed on the rocks of defeat.

And so chaos ensued in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday night, just as it did in 1994 when the team lost in similar fashion in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The mob mentality seemed as infectious as the flu.

Businesses were damaged and ransacked, cars were destroyed and fires set; public and private property was destroyed.

It is not a situation typical only of Vancouver, unfortunately, but it is too close to home to ignore this time. And it happened with too much fierce abandon. It left a black mark on Vancouver, diminishing much of shine acquired from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Public resources were required in expensive fashion: police, emergency services personnel and hospital staff were all forced to handle extreme situations and hundreds of extra workers were called in.

The cleanup will cost millions of dollars, some of that private money, some of it public money.

In the end, costs to private enterprise — business owners and insurance — will be borne by consumers.

Taxpayers will be asked to contribute their share. No government in a western nation, federal, provincial or municipal, would normally budget public funds to be spent on riots. It’s just not a common enough occurrence, except in the case of large, contentious events like international political summits. Some public money meant for something else will be diverted, compromising needed programs, or forcing tax hikes in the future.

All because a hockey game was lost.

Cheer all you want, but when the game is over, stop your pouting and go home.

To do otherwise is both infantile and expensive — and has nothing to do with sports.

John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image from Facebook)
Rocky Mountain House store bars vaccinated customers

‘No proof the vax works and no proof it does not shed’

Bloc Québécois MP Sebastien Lemire rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, March 12, 2021. A Bloc Québécois MP has apologized for taking a screen shot of a Liberal MP who inadvertently appeared nude during virtual proceedings in the House of Commons last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bloc Québécois MP apologizes for taking nude photo of Liberal MP William Amos

‘I have no idea how that photo made its way into the media’

FILE - This Sunday, June 25, 2017, file photo shows TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. A driver in South Carolina is the latest person to be killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator. Honda says that a faulty driver’s air bag blew apart in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The company wouldn’t give details of the Jan. 9, 2021, crash near Charlotte, North Carolina, nor would it identify the person who was killed. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
South Carolina driver killed by exploding air bag inflator

Drivers can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled

Hospital staff shift the body of a COVID-19 patient on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance at a specialized COVID-19 hospital in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Low on beds, oxygen, India adds global high 314K virus cases

Government rushing oxygen tankers to replenish hospital supplies

A traveler wearing a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, walks through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport in Boston, Friday, May 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Charles Krupa
JetBlue expanding wings with service to Vancouver from New York and Boston

JetBlue will have to compete with Canadian airlines

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, people take pictures of the Olympic rings installed by the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)
Olympic bodies launch competitive series in virtual sports

Olympic body hopes to reach more young people

Linda Tomlinson
Gardening: Leave the lawn until the soil is dry

Spring is arriving, Alberta style with warm days, cold days and snow.… Continue reading

Silent protests were held recently in response to Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week. Some former employees at Red Deer Public are saying the decision is misguided. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Letter: School board silencing Pride Week concern

While it has been our practice to not comment on matters arising… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Most Read