By Alex Norman
It’s one of those old sports adages… “Act like you’ve been there before.”
It’s what we’d like football players to do after scoring a touchdown. Instead of putting on a show, hand the football to the official and celebrate with the teammates that helped you get into the end zone.
It’s what we’d like baseball players to do after hitting a home run. Instead of turning the trot around the bases into a personal parade, step on each base and home plate, and accept congratulations from your teammates in the dugout.
But apparently the good people of Kentucky… at a school which has won 8 national championships and approximately 722 Southeastern Conference titles in men’s basketball… believe that winning a game in the Sweet 16 is a good excuse as any to destroy property.
And winning a game in the Elite 8… and winning a game in the Final Four… and losing the National Championship game.
Do a quick google search of be flat out embarrassed at how our neighbors to the north have acted over the past few weeks.
State Street in Lexington has been home to burned couches, overturned cars, police in full riot gear, assaults, multiple arrests…
And all of these things happen on four separate occasions.
Following Kentucky’s defeat at the hands of Connecticut in the championship game, the Associated Press reported that police had to use pepper balls to keep some fans in check. A spokesperson for the city of Lexington told the AP that 23 people were injured, 31 were arrested and 19 couches were set on fire.
The combination of 18-22 year olds with limited responsibility, limitless alcohol and couches which have outlived their usefulness has turned Kentucky into a laughing stock.
Wildcats fans aren’t alone of course. Rioting connected to the outcome of a sporting event has taken place for decades. The 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series victory was met with civil unrest, in one of the first sports riots. In 1994 and 2011, Vancouver exploded in violence following Game 7 loses in the Stanley Cup Finals by their beloved Canucks. Denver Broncos fans celebrated a Super Bowl title in 1999 with a reported 22 arrests and 15 damaged patrol cars as cops used tear gas and batons to subdue the mob.
It happened in Los Angeles, it happened in Boston… sadly, it happens in a lot of different places. Lexington is just the latest.
The people that excuse this kind of revelry as the innocent actions of some excited youth, or excuse the destruction of property as the byproduct of too much beer and testosterone likely did not have their cars tipped over by an angry mob.
Kentucky students reportedly tried to set fire to a house after the Connecticut loss.
Set fire… to a house.
Knoxville has been no stranger to this, even if it was on a lesser scale. UT students burned a mattress following Lane Kiffin’s resignation in January of 2010. I wonder what the reaction will be this October when Kiffin returns to Knoxville for the first time, only now as offensive coordinator at one of the Vols biggest rivals, Alabama.
Many of the law breakers aren’t sports fans at all… instead they are people just looking for an excuse to break stuff. A major sporting event gives them that opportunity.
Being young and dumb is a part of growing up. Most of us have things we wish that we did differently during our formative years.
But most of us didn’t have to be chased out of a roadway by law enforcement.
It’s time for some people to grow up.
That time is now in Lexington.
It’ll be that time again soon… in another place where a team is playing for a title.