Following Arizona's 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight of the 2014 NCAA tournament on Saturday, things turned hostile in Tucson.
Arizona fans began throwing cans, bottles and fireworks at Tucson police, according to Irene McKisson and Kimberly Matas of the Arizona Daily Star. The outlet also captured a photo of one resisting fan:
KVOA.com's Sam Salzwedel captured the scene on Vine as riot police lined up:
The Arizona Daily Star's Kelly Presnell posted a photo of another fan standing up to police:
The university's The Daily Wildcat newspaper provided updates on what was transpiring:
TPD declared unlawful assembly on University Boulevard— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
The police, clad in riot gear, took drastic measures to ensure that the crowds would disperse:
Police fire tear gas at crowds— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
Students throwing up due to tear gas— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
One reporter for the newspaper was shot with a beanbag:
Daily wildcat reporter shot by beanbag round— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
Police shot dozens of students with beanbags before the crowds eventually petered out:
CLARIFICATION: Dozens of students shot with beanbags. Apologies for confusion.— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
Crowds have died down— Daily Wildcat (@dailywildcat) March 30, 2014
Christine Pae of FOX 11 in Tucson refuted the reports of tear gas, instead noting that police fired pepper balls onto the crowds:
Police say crowds slowly beginning to disperse. Correction: no tear gas deployed. Just "pepper balls."— Christine Pae (@christinepae) March 30, 2014
Sportsnet.ca's Arash Madani was distraught and at a loss for words in weighing in on the situation:
This is happening, after an Arizona basketball loss. Speechless. RT @dailywildcat: Dozens of fans shot by riot officers— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) March 30, 2014
"It just looked like a bunch of students congregating, causing a ruckus," said senior Arizona student Julian Benitez to Ethan McSweeney of The Daily Wildcat, "and all these cops came out of nowhere, trying to get everybody out of here, and it just didn’t make sense."
It's an unfortunate scene in the wake of a basketball game, which shouldn't impact fans' behavior to the point that riot police are necessary. Although some may view the tactics to break up the crowds as brutal, the police felt that was the best option when confronting the vast Saturday night crowd.
Hopefully no fans are seriously injured, but any chaotic situation such as this is not a good look for all parties involved. This does not reflect well on the fans and it harms Arizona basketball to the extent that it adds another negative on top of the crushing defeat just one game short of the Final Four.
The line between passionate fandom and poor conduct is a very fine one, accentuated by the heightened stakes of major sporting events. This is yet another sad example of that phenomenon, and one that causes all-around harm to the university.