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Picture from Mashable

The riots of 2011 may go down as one of the most embarrassing and disgraceful acts by a group of fans in sports history. Regardless of what happened in ’94, or how much worse any other riot has been in the past, this riot is happening in real time on our Twitter feeds, in Google News, and YouTube videos. The digital age has fully arrived, and it’s part of the problem in Vancouver tonight.

Picture from Mashable

If you watch the footage, you’ll see countless people in the background, smartphones and digital cameras in hand, filming what’s going on around them. In the ’94 riots, nobody had a digital camera. The only footage we have came from professional newscasters. In 2011, with our iPhones, streaming video, and Twitter feeds – we’ve all become newscasters. When you put a cameras in the hands of the vast majority of a crowd, the nature of the crowd changes. When that 1% of the crowd starts to act stupid, the other 99% are there to record it on their smartphones. As the amateur newscasters record videos and take pictures, the rioters are encouraged to continue, whether they realize it or not. As half of the 99% sticks around to take pictures and videos of what’s happening, the rioters are encouraged to continue, or at least not discouraged. It would be a lot easier for police to move in and arrest those who are causing the problems if there weren’t thousands of others standing around watching. It’s kind of like kids at school who agree to fight after school, and only end up fighting because there’s a crowd there to watch them. If no crowd shows up, the kids don’t fight. Okay, maybe controlling a riot isn’t quite that simple, but you get the idea.

Why are people doing this? Because the Vancouver Canucks lost a hockey game? I question how much you really care about the game of hockey if you’re downtown right now breaking windows. Yeah, the game was frustrating, and the Canucks were probably capable of winning the hockey game, but they didn’t. Tim Thomas was an absolute beast in this series, allowing only 8 goals in 7 games. No matter how bad the goaltending may or may not be in your own end, if you only score about 1.15 goals per game, you’re going to have a tough time winning a seven game series. There are a ton of other things that went wrong for the Canucks (Rome being a guinea pig for a new league disciplinarian, a powerplay that went dead, inconsistent officiating, injuries to Hamhuis, Samuelsson, and Raymond, an unwillingness or inability to stand up for star players, and as mentioned before, goaltending), but those can be left for another day.

The Bruins hacked and slashed their way through the series, pulling the Canucks into a style of game they aren’t capable of playing, and before the Canucks realized it, they were out of it. The momentum had shifted entirely. By that time Marchand has shown what kind of skill he has, Recchi found another gear, and Bergeron regained his scoring touch. Everyone talked about the Canucks’ depth (myself included), but the Bruins are pretty deep up front as well. Their second and fourth lines were the difference tonight.

At least the fans in Rogers Arena showed some class, giving Tim Thomas a huge ovation as he raised the Cup. They recognized what had just happened. Tim Thomas came into their house and stole the show, completing outplaying his Canadian counterpart. It’s too bad that there were so many people downtown who are not fans of the sport, and simply came downtown either with the intention of starting something, or because they wanted to see what would happen. Like I alluded to earlier, if you’re down there recording videos and taking pictures, you’re contributing to the problem.

This night may go down as one of the most disgusting events in sports history as far as fans go, if nothing else due to the age we live in. There is a lot of footage out there, and in the next few days, more and more people will see it. The story has already been posted on Mashable and The New York Times, which I found out from Roger Ebert’s Twitter feed. The nature of news has changed, and this riot in an affluent, Canadian city, which broke out because of a hockey game, is already spreading quickly, becoming global news. This is a gigantic black mark on the city and the franchise. I just saw footage of seven guys fighting each other on the corner of Robson and Howe, and most were wearing Canucks T-shirt jerseys. I saw a D. Sedin (22) fighting a H. Sedin (33), and a Bieksa (3) was backing him up. It’s so sad. You’re fans of the same team, people. They lost and it sucks, but get over it and go home. You’re just encouraging the idiotic 1% of the crowd to keep doing what they’re doing.

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