On Monday night, the Kentucky Wildcats won their school’s six NCAA national championship. Players and fans cheered and cried as the floor was flooded in blue and white.
All of that was marred by the rioting that took place in Lexington, the UK Wildcats home city, after the final buzzer. One person was shot, a truck crashed into a crowded bar, multiply people were hospitalized in other incidents, fires and flipped cars were everywhere and vandalism was rampant. A full-fledged riot occurred.
One fan said “If you’re part of Big Blue Nation— there’s nothing like it. I babysit kids here, and the 3-year-old knows all the players’ names.”
She said this while spray-painting pine trees blue.
I wonder if the parents of the children she baby-sits would appreciate this fan using their child as some kind of justification for her actions.
Riots are never a good thing for any reason whatsoever. The often come out of civil, social and political unrest. They may alert people to a problem, but they are never a solution.
Though I do think when riots happen for these reasons it is still clearly the wrong response, people can at least understand where it comes from and what set off the rioters.
But with riots over sports, that is not the case. Yes, your team won or lost and it was terrible or it was fantastic. I don’t see either of those scenarios as an even somewhat logical reason to start fires, throw rocks and bottles, beat people up or destroy valuable property.
I think it is safe to assume most sports riots are started by very intoxicated people, but if we don’t consider intoxication a good enough excuse for other illegal and dangerous actions, it shouldn’t be considered a good excuse for rioting either.
Now I know rioting after a sporting event is nothing new. In fact, the first recorded sports-related riot was in 532 AD in Constantinople after a chariot race. Approximately 30,000 people died and much of the city burned to the ground.
A series of riots in the 1980s actually brought about six -year bans of multiple English soccer teams. The rest of the world looked down on the entire country, not just these teams, upon for at least a decade.
In 1994, the FIFA World Cup’s organizing committee chairman said only the presence of three specific countries would have brought violence to the World Cup. Two of them, Iraq and Iran, had been at war off-and-on for centuries. The other country was England.
Nothing to that scale happened in Lexington, but that is not because the rioters showed restraint.
“We are the best team in America,” rioter Joey Fredrick said during Saturday night’s riots when Kentucky advanced to the championship. “I think houses should burn.”
Another said he didn’t blame the rioters for going crazy because the Wildcats were going to the championship.
“Bourbon Street doesn’t have anything on State Street,” said UK junior Michael Soto, referencing the famous New Orleans party street and the location of Saturday’s riots.
In all honesty, that is how I will remember the University of Kentucky. Not as a school with an amazing basketball team that won the national championship but as a school full of thugs and vandals.
You would think that people would have realized that nobody wins a riot. In the end, sports rioters only bring embarrassment to their teams and wreckage to their own city.