Thursday, April 5, 2012

Basketball Riots and Comments on Society

Links to background info, for anyone who might need it.

Post-Championship Riots

Post-Louisville Win Riots


I never understood rioting as a form of celebration. Perhaps I've just never experienced that much joy, but to me being happy & destruction do not go hand-in-hand. I just don't get it.

Here in the Bluegrass State, there have been two significant riots in less than a week, both in Lexington, both over basketball victories.

I certainly do not understand being so impassioned about a sporting event that I would be willing to riot and destroy in support of "my" team.

If you get this, good for you. But it's something I've never understood.

The thing is, these riots, particularly the second one after the UK Wildcats won the NCAA National Basketball Championship, were not isolated incidents involving a few fans.

The second riot by some estimates included over 15,000 people. Some news sources estimate this to be approximately 40% of the fans in the city at the time.

FORTY PERCENT. That is a significant portion of the fan community. That is not an isolated incident. That is not a few "bad apples". Forty percent.

Just to give you an idea of how big the riots were:

- a number equaling just over 55% of the entire student population were involved.
- a number equaling 5% of the entire city of Lexington were involved
- a number equaling the entire population of the nearest city to my rural home were involved
- a number large enough to qualify to be their own "city" in the state of Kentucky were involved

I hope you get the idea. This was a HUGE riot.

There were reports of: arson of objects (primarily couches), attempted arson of vacant buildings, widespread damage to both personal & public property, violent attacks on emergency responders, and one reported shooting, among numerous other charges.

This was a VIOLENT riot.

I was (and still am) disturbed by how large and widespread the violence was. All in the name of celebration.

Large enough that Jason's department (over 30 minutes away), was put on alert in case it spread to them. Thirty minutes away. That is an event of significant size.

What disturbs me about this isn't the riot itself, not even really the violence (as troubling as it is), but how widespread it was, how many people participated.

Because, in my mind, for such a significant portion of the fan community on-site to have participated, the actions must have been acceptable to the community itself.

And that, is what I find disturbing.

I find it disturbing that one of my co-workers brought in a picture of his child, a current student at UK, front & center at a couch burning, to show off. I don't recall ever seeing a picture of the kid's cap & gown from high school graduation, but participating in an act of arson? He was one proud papa. Passed that baby around the office.

I find it disturbing that when I mentioned on my personal Facebook how "shameful" I found the riots, my page exploded with Wildcat fans defending the riots.
Claims of how it's "normal", how "it happens everywhere", "riots happen at every school that wins", and slams against my alma mater claiming that if we ever won the championship it would be much worse, covered my wall. Only one person, while still trying to defend the action, ever mentioned that they did "not condone the riots". Only one. The rest were all heated up defending violence in the name of celebration.

In fact, in all the conversations I have had about the riots on various social media, and in person, with numerous fans over the past several days (I do live & work in Kentucky you know), only two have expressed that they didn't approve of the behavior. Only two. Every other person attempted to defend the violence in some way. Only two.

Now, I am certainly no expert on psychology or sociology, but to me it speaks volumes about any community who will defend violence because (in their eyes), it's "normal".

And since these types of riots certainly are not exclusive to Lexington (by the way, I never said they were), I suppose that speaks volumes about our society as a whole, doesn't it?

I also find it disturbing that when I posted a follow-up link, and listed the reasons I was concerned (the riots were large & violent, emergency responders were being attacked, etc), I received several comments about how that was "my opinion" and that they "disagreed with me".

I re-read the post. Nothing I said was opinion. Everything listed actually happened. I responded as such, as a point of clarification. The response? They reiterated that it was my "opinion".

I don't even know how to respond to that. Do they actually think the riots didn't occur? Weren't very big? Are they ignoring the multitudes of evidence? Is it a type of denial?

The fact that this happened is not anyone's opinion, any more than the fact that the Wildcats won the National Championship is. It happened. They won. People rioted. Both facts, not opinions.

Back to my FB wall, to be fair, a lot of the conversation on blew up when I wasn't even around. But as I read the comments & private messages later that night, I realized I was being attacked. Accused of starting it when I called all UK fans "stupid", and apparently at some point insulted the basketball program as well.

Confused, I went back over my posts. Everything I posted was directly in response to the rioting. No where did I call out all of the fans. I did have one mention of "stupidity", clearly directed at the violent behavior. And I never even mentioned the basketball program.

Apparently, in the fervor to defend "their"... team? fans? school? not even sure at this point... my words were twisted in their mind and I became the attacker, as I supposedly hurled insults at not only all of the fans, but also the team & the school.

But I suppose that's neither here nor there, except to show you how worked up people can become over sports.

Which leads me to yet another comment on society.

I have seen people post things on Facebook that are blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, and attacking religion... yet never, never have I seen any response as strongly as what was received on my post calling a violent sports riot shameful.

How is it that our society has reached a point where a sports team will incite such an incredible response, yet prejudicial remarks about race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion receive minimal, if any, attention at all? What does that say about where our priorities lie as a people? Not as individuals, not where you say your priorities lie, but as a group, what do we get impassioned about?

I don't have any answers. Again, I am no sociologist or psychologist, but this whole thing as me deep in thought about our society, not only where we are presently, but also where we are headed.


Thanks for reading my ramblings, and as always, thanks for checking in!


areyoukiddingme said...

I think the riots are shameful Celebrations should not involve destruction of property. I do not get the correlation. And the "everybody does it" excuse does not make it right.

Maybe it's human nature, though - I mean, past social events included lions v Christians in the Coliseum and public hangings. Maybe we should just stop being such prudes.

Steph{anie} said...

Riots are not normal. Destruction of property is not normal. Civilized human beings acting like untamed animals in the name of "celebration" isn't normal.

The whole Facebook issue really got to me, because it's ridiculous that people get so defensive of their precious sports teams. It's a game, people...winning a championship does NOT necessitate violence. Anyone who would participate in such activities should indeed be considered stupid.

Emmy said...

Wow- that is just all insane. I too do not understand how a riot where things and people are being hurt is a form of celebration. And then the way people were attacking you, yes our society is messed up.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

All of your experience with this issue seems to point to how debased our society has become and how often 'lowest common denominator' behavior is seen as acceptable.
I can't help but think that yet again my view of facebook as a completely negative entity is justified by the way that so often people get on there to defend their negative behaviors and find very quickly that there are others who are more than willing to join in their (yes) stupidity and rotten behavior so (wrongly) decide that their behavior is not only normal, but also good and just.
Simply because many people do something does not in any way make it acceptable. Where are our moral compasses going?!

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