Riot outside your window

By Kurt Coleman

If you live in Southwest and are not aware of its notorious history of rioting, well, I don’t know why you are living in Southwest. The underclassmen Mecca has long been the campus capital for overindulgent college behavior. And when it comes to sporting events, what better way to overindulge than in the form of a full-fledged, car burning, non-clothed, spray-painting, dangerously low firework deploying riot, right?

Maria Uminski/Collegian

This weekend, the New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, and if they win, let the celebration begin. We can’t take for granted one more title in trophy-town. After all, how much longer will the heavens continue to rain championships upon New England? Responsible students don’t need to let the ugly memory of past mob takeovers hinder their right to a fun and unforgettable celebration. This is what being a fan is all about. One day, when your team wins it all, you get to cash in.

The people who take this opportunity to destroy public property do not represent the beauty of the fandom described above. However, those people are a harsh reality. And I think that we can all admit there is something oddly exhilarating about standing in the midst of such chaos. But there is a fine line between experiencing chaos, and actually causing it. There is nothing wrong with walking this line, so long as you don’t cross it.

There is always going to be those who do. But it doesn’t need to be you.And the more people who recognize that, the less destructive these riots will become. Until then, what is to stop you from wandering outside to take in this once in a lifetime experience? Every student who has ever lived in Southwest has got to leave with at least one riot story. Why should this generation of freshman be left out?

I can recall my own experience with Southwest rioting, albeit a tame one. Last year, following the death of Osama bin Laden, hundreds of students gathered in Southwest to set off fireworks, chant “U.S.A.” and participate in general pandemonium. There were those who wanted to take it too far, climbing up newly planted trees and trying to set them aflame. Being in the crowd, watching and reflecting on that moment is something I would not want to miss. By all means, if the Patriots can take home Super Bowl XLVI, I encourage all Patriots fans to revel in the glory. Turn up “We Are the Champions,” find the closest Giants fan and let them know that Eli Manning’s got nothing on Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck.

I emphasize that you remember the difference between fanaticism and hooliganism. Take the example of the recent Egyptian soccer riots this week. Seventy-four people have been reported dead according to the BBC as a result of herds of crazed fans storming the field following the game. This is an example of hooliganism. Any American sports fan in his right-mind would agree that this behavior is absurd and puzzling.

Now suppose – fingers crossed here – the Patriots lose on Sunday night. Rioting would not be appropriate. Just as the thin line between participation and instigation must not be crossed, there is another line between good-natured and ill-natured. When rioting becomes ill-natured it becomes a disgusting display of self-indulgence and public disregard. It becomes a display of hooliganism. This is precisely what UMass does not want to see its students engaged in, and I’d probably take it a step further and say the Patriots would not like to see their fans engaged in. Think about how sorry Vancouver Canucks fans looked last summer when they took to the streets following their Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins. In fact, it almost made that victory a little sweeter for us Bruins fans; look at how bad those Canucks wanted it and we took it from them. I don’t think we need to provide Giants fans with anything more to gloat about.

So on Sunday night we’ll see if Brady has a little magic left in him. We’ll see if there will be another championship parade in Boston. And just maybe Southwest will erupt into celebration.

Kurt Coleman is a collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]