Stupidity: What A Riot

As much as those Oregon State fans who walked up the student section aisle were punk-asses, Gavin McMeeking still regrets throwing a balled up napkin at them. He didn't have anything heavier. E-mail him at [email protected]





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There's nothing better than a riot to remind us how utterly stupid and destructive mankind is - except a sports riot.

Any sort of activity in which it becomes logical to throw a water bottle at somebody is kind of screwy. Just imagine if the same sort of stuff that happens in a soccer riot happened in your Political Science 2 class.

You're sitting there, listening to what makes some states nations but not all nations states when the guy behind you says something about comparative politics being "crap" and that "it's all about the methodology method, bitches."

At this point somebody throws a binder. Then a different Poli Sci 3 representer whose snuck into the lecture throws his latte from Wall Berlin at somebody else. Soon all hell has broken out in Wheeler Auditorium.

Swept up in the moment, you grab the person sitting next to you and repeatedly punch them in the face, screaming nonsense about Dahl's definition of a nation versus Weber's definition of a nation and what is a polyarchy anyway.

As downright stupid as the above scenario seems, put the characters in a football stadium or sports arena and it all is a little more believable, but still just as stupid.

For example, Oklahoma knocks off No. 1 Nebraska two weeks ago to give the Sooners a very real chance at winning a national championship. It was a pretty big win, considering Oklahoma had won just 9 of 97 previous games against the Cornhuskers. No doubt cause for much celebration, and the fans, realizing this, promptly rushed the field to tear down the goalposts - uh, cool - and prompt the police to - in their infinite wisdom and restraint - pepper spray the crowd. Meanwhile the players and coaches stray too close to the action, and get sprayed themselves.

A similar sports related riot happened at Indiana back in September when the infamous Bob Knight was finally fired for being a total asshole for the last 20 years. Some students gathered to protest the firing. It started as a peaceful march to Indiana President Myles Brand's house. But when it got dark the protest turned violent, eventually bringing Knight back, not to coach again, but to ask everybody to go home and stop acting like he did for his entire coaching career.

Then there was the riot after the Cal-UCLA game. Whether or not that night's activities can be directly attributed to the victory is debatable.

Los Angeles, a city which had last seen civic violence in the form of the 1992 riots saw violence again this year as well. If in '92, the riots were a massive protest against the L.A.P.D. for beating Rodney King, this year's rioting was a massive celebration of the Lakers beating Reggie Miller.

And that's just in the United States. Who can forget the Columbian soccer player - I forget his name - who was killed because he made a mistake in a 1994 World Cup match. Plus there are the countless incidents of violence at soccer matches in just about every country except Canada, where they're so nice even enemies are polite to each other.

Name a country and I can name a reason.

Name any sport and I can come up with a riot.

Ask for a reason for all this mess and the only thing I can say is go figure.

Go figure out why somebody would want put somebody in the hospital because they root for the other team. Go figure out why somebody would risk going to the hospital because they want to put somebody else in the hospital who is a lot bigger than them. Go figure out why a sports rivalry can be so strong that it causes people to risk landing themselves with a criminal record.

The answer just might be as sad as the riots themselves. Take one educated student - meaning that we're not counting USC - and odds are they're usually mature enough to realize that punching somebody isn't very productive. Take 10,000 students and suddenly punching somebody is the only thing that's productive. There's a brief moment of riot-magic where one's mind decides for some reason that it's okay for me to throw this at that guy, because that dude over there just threw something at him too.

Except that reason stopped working after first grade. And everybody knows that. But some psychologist could tell you something about the mob mentality and how mobs are among many things, unexplainable.

The solution? Keep sports for the fans of the game, not for fans of the violence. Keep the riots out of stadiums and it's fine with me. Do whatever the hell your drunk dumb ass mob mindset tells you to do. Just don't do it where it hurts players, coaches, and the spectators on the sidelines.

Get your riot on. Just don't get it on me.

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