On the Bench: The line between “fan” and “fanatic”

The majority of the population of the world follows sports at some level, whether it be professional or collegiate sports. You can often see people walking around with a baseball cap donning the logo of a team, or a sweatshirt from that team’s championship win. These are “fans.” Fans enjoy watching a sport and following a team for fun. Then there are the people who are in the news for trashing a city or  blaring music and cheering at a hotel when their team is staying there. Those are “fanatics,” and they take things too far.

There have been multiple instances in where fans of a sports team will trash a city in response to a big and important game. Take for instance, the Vancouver Riot of June 15, 2011. The riot was over the Stanley Cup final of 2011. It was the Vancouver Canucks against the Boston Bruins. The riot started immediately after the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals when the Bruins won both that game and the Cup as a whole. Violence started when fans of the hockey team set fire to a stuffed bear, the mascot of the Boston Bruins. The drunken Canadians flooded into the streets and set cars and garbage cans on fire, smash windows and dance on overturned vehicles. There were reports of four stabbings and 58 injuries during that one night. People were looting department stores, and police eventually had to start to use flashbangs. Another instance is when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. The citizens of the city went wild, since it was the first time the team won the Super Bowl. Similar to the riot that happened in Vancouver, citizens had climbed light posts, flipped over cars and trashed the city during their celebration. This kind of mayhem shouldn’t be caused by an outcome of a sports game.

Not only is this just uncalled for, it’s very dangerous. This sets a precedent that should not have been set in the first place. This kind of behavior teaches people that it’s ok to go completely wild after something they like or don’t like happens. People should not worry about going outside when the local team loses or wins a major game. Not only that, people shouldn’t be getting hurt, or looting, or setting things on fire when this happens. Celebrations and riots like this have been repeatedly been referred to as just purely uncalled for. The teams themselves often don’t condone this behavior. So why do it? Why ruin the place that you live just because a local sports team lost a game? This is what separates a fan from a fanatic. Fans might post something online about being disappointed, fanatics resort to violence.

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