Finals riots give college students a bad name

If I live to be 100 (which I hope I don’t) I will never understand the urge to celebrate a sports victory by ripping the town apart. The phenomenon has become routine, especially at colleges winning (or for that matter, losing) the NCAA basketball tournament.

Maryland, of course, beat Indiana in the national championship on Monday night. Fans in Bloomington, Indiana, and College Park, Maryland, decided that Maryland’s victory required fires to be set and beer bottles to be thrown. People in Bloomington were treated for burns, cuts, and having too much to drink.

The idea of starting a fire really puzzles me. Is it some kind of primal attempt to appease the basketball gods? Since Maryland won, were they lighting the fires as a way of thanking the hoops deities? Was Indiana asking for better luck from the gods for the future?

Maryland’s fans turned violent, despite the fact that they won. Maybe they didn’t win by enough, which is why the window of a bike shop was broken, bottles were thrown, and the aforementioned fires were lit. (“Eight points? Schwinn must pay!”) On the bright side for Maryland, none of their players overdosed on cocaine (yet).

I’m fairly confident that we, at USF, are immune from this kind of thing. First of all, we have trouble getting an at-large invite to the NCAA Tournament. If we do get invited, hopes aren’t high in terms of how far we can go. We’re not a big school; we’re not a basketball powerhouse school (yet). Another thing in our favor is the fact that not a lot of people live on campus. Additionally, we’re just all better behaved. Don’t think I’m badmouthing our basketball team, that’s not my intent. I’m simply saying we have a smaller program than the schools that are riot-prone. If one day USF does make it into the Final Four, I’m confident that Bulls fans will have more restraint (win or lose).

A major concern I have in situations like this is how this makes all college students look. People expect this kind of thing from us, there are condemnations written in advance of the actual riots. Police are out on the streets before the students, before the game is even over, but the riots still happen.

I’m all for celebration. I don’t even think the police would mind too terribly if people were in the street and simply celebrating, as long as there was no violence. Bloomington Police Captain Mike Deikhoff said so. “If the crowd hadn’t started throwing beer bottles and setting fires we wouldn’t have had to act.” See? The cops don’t care if you celebrate, just don’t burn things.

Next year I hope that the fans of whichever teams compete for the national title show some discipline. Resist the urge to follow the drunken herd mentality. Let’s not have another innocent couch victimized by an unruly mob of fans. Surrounding businesses and buildings should not have to face the wrath of angry sports fans. In short, cut the crap.

Chris Ricketts is a sophomore majoring in English.