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Win Or Lose, Some Fans Choose To Riot

A man with a Candanian flag walked in front of a burning vehicle Wednesday night (June 15, 2011) in Vancouver, Canada. (Elsa/Getty Images)
A man with a Candanian flag walked in front of a burning vehicle Wednesday night (June 15, 2011) in Vancouver, Canada. (Elsa/Getty Images)

In recent years, fans in Montreal have burned cars and smashed windows after their beloved Canadiens won key playoff games. It happened in 2008 and again in 2010.

Last night, Canucks fans ran amok in Vancouver after their team lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup championship to the Boston Bruins.

According to The Associated Press:

"Angry, drunken fans ran wild Wednesday night after the Vancouver Canucks' 4-0 loss to Boston ... setting cars and garbage cans ablaze, smashing windows, showering giant TV screens with beer bottles and dancing atop overturned vehicles."

It looks as if the amount of damage will exceed what was done in Vancouver after the Canucks were beaten in another Game 7 by the New York Rangers in 1994.

Back in 2005, National Geographic News asked why do sporting events "provoke acts of mob mayhem?"

Basically, booze and adrenaline make for a deadly mix, even when you're team is on the winning side.

"Fans become passionate about their team and try to find personal satisfaction in their team's wins,"Allyce Najimy, senior associate director at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston, told National Geographic. "You add the adrenaline, the alcohol that's often being consumed and in a highly charged atmosphere things tend to set people off more than they would in a calmer environment."

And then there's the phenomena known as "deindividuation," said Christian End, an expert in sport fan behavior at Xavier University. When you're in a group, you're "less accountable [and] tend to behave in ways we wouldn't," he told National Geographic. "If I'm among thousands of celebrating people and I were to throw a beer bottle against a brick wall, you'd have a hard time picking me out."

The problem is not unique to hockey, as the violence last year in Los Angeles after the Lakers won the NBA championship proves.

By the way, there's an effort underway on Facebook to identify "the losers" that were responsible for last night's violence in Vancouver. More than 20,000 people have "liked" that page.

Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Our colleague Linda Holmes over at Monkey See has weighed in as well. She makes the case that these riots show us:

"How angry people already are.

"You win, you set a fire. You lose, you set a fire. The message is pretty clear: It's not about the game; it's about the fact that you ... wanted to set a fire. If you see pictures of a sports riot and you want to worry about something, don't worry about sports or sports fans. Worry about that."

Meanwhile, this photo from last night in Vancouver is getting some attention. Perhaps it shows that love can survive in the midst of chaos?

Vancouver riot police walk in the street as a couple kiss. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Picture Show spoke with the photographer.

Copyright NPR 2022.




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