So there I was last night, watching Boston humiliate Vancouver, with a great big smile on my face. From time to time, CBC would show pictures of an enormous, ‘Victory in Europe’ size crowd watching the game on big screens outside.
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “This isn’t going to turn out well.”
Win or lose, there was going to be trouble.
Win, and a handful of “fans” would use the opportunity to go on a happy crime spree.
Lose, and a handful of “fans” would use the opportunity to go on an angry crime spree.
There was just no way — no way on earth — that a gathering of that size, in that city, under those circumstances, was going to end in anything but the sickening, shameful spectacle of violence. And please don’t call it a hockey riot. It has nothing to do with hockey.
You really have to wonder about the mental acuity of the people who run the city of Vancouver. What kind of conversations did they have?
“Say, let’s put up giant screens in downtown so that massive crowds of drunken/stoned young people can gather to watch this super-charged, hyper-emotional hockey series. What could go wrong?”
Shockingly stupid. And I’m not saying that the violence that occurred would only have happened in Vancouver. Edmonton had its fair share of shameful moments during the Oilers unexpected Stanley Cup run. But the roving rumbles that occurred on Whyte Ave were almost entirely alcohol-fueled, and not city sanctioned. If the Oilers were in the same situation, it would have been the worst kind of folly to put up giant screens on Whyte or in Churchill Square. Every city — except maybe Vatican City — has a hooligan/anarchist element that is just looking for a chance to go on a violent spree. And when you’re surrounded by tens of thousands of law-abiding, if downcast citizens, it’s easy to go wild and blend into the crowd.
At least, it was. One of the great benefits of this Facebook era, where everybody has a camera and everybody is happy to post pictures of everything, is that the thug element has fewer places to hide. There will be a huge backlash by proud Vancouverites against the goons who sullied the city’s reputation. I’m betting that police will be inundated with hundreds or thousands of photos, and the lowlifes will pay the price.
If the Oilers are ever in a Stanley Cup winning position, let’s hope we remember Vancouver’s folly and nobody comes up with the brilliant idea to put up giant screens on Churchill Square. Of course, considering the state of the Oilers, that doesn’t seem to be anything we’ll have to worry about for years.