Last night, while feeling disappointed that the Boston Bruins had defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup, I headed over to a hockey forum. I have an account there but am more of a lurker than a poster.
I was intrigued when I saw a topic title that said there were riots in Vancouver, but I had to laugh. I had heard stories of Montreal Canadiens' fans rioting, and I have a sister who used to live in Philadelphia who told me stories about how Philadelphia Phillies' fans behaved when they won the 2008 World Series.
I didn’t think this would be any big deal and that any trouble would end fairly quickly.
Boy, was I wrong.
I clicked on a link to a live stream from CTV, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on my computer. Cars were on fire, people were running through the streets doing what they pleased, and a reporter named Rob Brown (who, little did he know, was becoming a cult hero among those tuned in for his straightforward and unintentionally funny account of the situation) was in the middle of it all.
I found myself mesmerized, and not in a good way, by the fires burning throughout the city. I was distracted by the security and fire alarms ringing in the background. I was horrified to see people doing things like running through burning cars and beating up others who were trying to bring an end to the violence.
I saw one person being taken out on a stretcher, and I scratched my head, wondering why some of the people gathered downtown got such joy out of posing for pictures in front of fires and broken store windows.
I stayed up till 2:30 a.m., watching it all unfold. Yes, I should have gone to bed, but I was so stunned I probably wouldn't have been able to fall asleep anyway. Furthermore, as a journalism graduate, I was hooked on all of the action. It was like a train wreck for me and millions of others. We wanted to look away, but we couldn’t.
But as I stayed glued to my laptop, I kept asking myself one thing:
Why wouldn’t the fans who gathered downtown just go home and maybe have a drink in their homes to forget it all? Even venting on Facebook or Twitter would be better than carrying out violent acts.
Why did a small group of people insist on making Canucks' fans and the whole city of Vancouver look terrible?
Why did people act like this over a hockey game?
Why did people make such trouble while wearing the jerseys of beloved Canucks' players such as Ryan Kesler and Trevor Linden? In my opinion, it was a disgrace to the players whose names are on the back of those jerseys.
Twenty-four hours later, I am still in shock over what unfolded in Vancouver last night. I wasn't directly impacted by the riots since I live on the East Coast, but the images I saw are still in the front of my mind.
It was nice to see the community come together today and help clean up the downtown area. It was awesome to see so many fans signing a boarded up window with messages of support. It was great to see Vancouver residents talk on Twitter about what makes their city so great.
But for as much as we want to forget last night, we can’t.
We can’t forget seeing police officers lined up in riot gear, doing anything they could to disperse the crowd. We can’t forget seeing injured people lying in the streets, including a Bruins fan who was unconscious. We can’t forget how we could barely congratulate Boston on a hard-earned victory before all the trouble started.
Last night was a bad night, not just for Canucks fans and the Vancouver residents, but for hockey fans as a whole. Fans of all teams were irate and expressed their outrage at Canucks' fans. Canucks' fans struggled to save face and insisted that not everyone in their fanbase conducts themselves this way.
It was sure a far cry from the 2010 Olympics, where celebrations erupted in the same downtown areas where last night’s riots took place. People were friendly to their fellow citizens and to tourists from other countries. The Olympics came and went with very little incident.
Canucks' fans should be reflecting on the great playoff run they had, even though they didn’t get the result they wanted. They should be proud of Daniel Sedin, who won the Art Ross Trophy and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy. They should be thrilled that they finally knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks in a playoff series.
Instead, they are still reeling from the events of last night and trying to deal with the aftermath. A city is in shambles, and businesses have suffered millions of dollars in damages. Some victims remain in hospitals. Vancouver police are using social media to look for those responsible and plan on making arrests.
Last night's events will hurt more than losing a Stanley Cup ever could.