Have a little self-respect, re-defined

My last post was about having some self-respect on the ice. In that post, I was talking about something that isn’t that big of a deal when compared to the big scheme of things; hockey, in comparison to most aspects of life, isn’t that significant.

I’m sure the Sedins, who I have trashed for their lack of heart during the playoffs, have some respect for themselves, and others, outside of the rink. They’ve donated millions of dollars to charities. They’re very classy players on the ice; never will you see them throw a cheap shot or go after another player. They’re great teammates, from what I hear. Overall, they’re good people who should be respected as such, even if it’s hard to respect their abilities to perform when it matters.

It sucks when a large crowd of fans, a small group of fans or even just one fan of an athletics team makes all of the fans that associate themselves with the same team look terrible. As sports fans, we tend to stereotype an entire fan base based on personal experiences with fans of another team, or even just by what we see in the media.

I’ve had a lot of experiences with Vancouver fans in the past few weeks; granted, they were all via the Internet, but I got a taste of what a Vancouver fan was like in general. Long story short, I began to dislike Canucks fans, mostly for defending acts such as the Burrows bite, essentially arguing that black is white. Were they all obnoxious and unreasonable? Of course not. But my experiences, as a whole, swayed my opinion that the majority of Canuck fans are annoying and frustrating to deal with, and towards the end of it all, I couldn’t stand Canuck fans.

But that’s just playoff hockey. Yes, I am a Rangers fan, and will be one forever (unfortunately), but I supported Boston throughout the playoffs. So of course I am going to dislike the fans of the team of my “opponents.” It’s not a big deal, and I would have been totally over hating Canuck fans after Game 7, just like all the players got in that line at center ice and shook hands after everything that took place on the ice and the media. I would have gone back to hating the Flyers, the Penguins, the Devils, the Islanders, and a few select players from those teams and other teams.

Everything would have been pretty normal if not for the events following the game.

I could list a bunch of descriptive words and phrases about what took place that night and try to describe it. I can tell you in detail how what I witnessed from a couple of thousand miles away made me feel. But nothing I say could do it justice.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, some hooligan-Canuck fans decided it would be just a swell idea to riot in the streets of Vancouver (some great photos here, actually) after having their hopes of their first Stanley Cup being trashed by the Boston Bruins (the riots actually started a few minutes before the final buzzer, as the game was decided rather early for a Game 7). And as a hockey fan, a sports fan, and even just as a person, I am offended by those actions.

I get it. You’re upset. You’re team lost. Hockey might be all some of you have in Canada have (although Vancouver has an MLS team, too: the Vancouver Whitecaps). I’m sure getting all the way to Game 7 of the finals and losing [pretty badly] must have been devastating. Going 40 seasons without a Cup must suck. Who knows when you’ll get another shot at it.

But how are you going to act like that? How are you going to embarrass yourselves and your entire city because your favorite hockey team didn’t pull through? Do you realize how you look, what image you portray?

“What, we lost at hockey? BREAK AND BURN EVERYTHING!”

“Aw, yeah, bro! Sick idea!”

I cannot deal with that mentality; I can’t deal with those people who think ruining a city is an acceptable way to deal with defeat.

But it’s even worse than that. These people were going to riot REGARDLESS of the outcome. People brought backpacks filled with all kinds of tools useful for rioting to the viewing area outside the arena. They had planned to riot before having any idea of what the outcome would have been. They did it in 1994 after losing to the Rangers, and, keeping with tradition, some decided to trash their city at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Let me be clear: these people whom act like that aren’t fans. Maybe they care about the team, maybe they don’t. These are the kinds of people who go to events and partake in various shenanigans just to fit in with everyone else. The people who really don’t care about anyone else. The people who join clubs, sports, frats, or any group just so they can be at the top of the social ladder, fit in and not be ridiculed or have to deal with being different; the “cool” kids, if you will (and it was mostly teenagers and young adults who participated).

I have a problem with those people; it upsets me that they exist. Not only do those terrible people make me lose hope for sports fans, and even humanity in general, they just make everyone around them look bad. They make all Vancouver Canuck fans look like hooligans. What’s going to happen when the average fan passes another wearing a Canucks jersey on the street, or come into any sort of contact with someone who classifies his fandom for the Canucks? He/she is instantly branded as a rioting moron, based on what he/she has seen or heard — a hooligan who deserves no respect. It’s not fair to those fans. It’s not fair to hockey fans! When it comes to hockey, all you see through the big sports media are the bad things that go on: the cheap shots, the goonery, the injuries, players being carried out on stretchers, biting, taunting…and now, rioting.

As hockey fans — as sports fans — let’s not be so quick as to categorize all Vancouver fans into the category of  “classless” and “rioting morons”; like this guy (NSFW: language, some violence), they’re not all hooligans. Let’s not let the acts of a few very, very stupid people taint what was a very interesting Stanley Cup; we should either be celebrating/honoring a Bruins victory or getting a fire lit under us after watching those intense, grueling playoffs about the next hockey season starting in a few months in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, our favorite team will come out on top. We shouldn’t be talking about some stupid people who decided to disregard ethics and instead wanted to satisfy their own personal rage. We should instead be talking about hockey-related things, perhaps how the Canucks seemed to lack the heart necessary to win, or how Timmy Thomas put on one of the best goaltending performances in postseason history, or how Roberto Luongo and the Canucks couldn’t get the job done on the road, or how rookie Brad Marchand made a name for himself, or seeing how scary/intimidating/inspiring Zdeno Chara can be after two months of playoffs and a Cup (I’ll probably add to those ideas, stay tuned).

Riots should not even be the discussion. They shouldn’t be making headlines; we shouldn’t be talking about 100 arrests and stabbings on the night the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophies were awarded. The acts of a few shouldn’t outweigh the efforts of athletes who have battled for their fans, the sport and the sacred Stanley Cup for the past few months. Hockey should not be overshadowed by public stupidity. I can only hope that people aren’t encouraged by what they saw. I know that the majority of sports fans wouldn’t even think to trash a city, win or lose.

As that one brave Vancouver resident said, it’s their city. What are they doing? What’s the point of rioting? If only there were more people like him present, and that bandwagon mentality wasn’t so powerful, we could be talking about hockey and none of this stupidity would even be an issue. The rioters embarassed themselves and the city. They’ve forever tainted the image of themselves, the city of Vancouver, the Vancouver Canucks, and all hockey fans in one night. Have a little self-respect, for yourself and for the city you live in.

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