Founder's Wall
Looking back on the response to a riot

Introduced: April 19 2012

Probably most of us have never been to the University of Kentucky. Maybe we’ve never been to Louisville. But we were given an eyeful after Kentucky won the NCAA championship in April. One of our IWD members asked who, if anyone, was doing something about the riots that occurred in Louisville after the game. While usually IWD members are very “vocal” on topics, this one didn’t generate much response.

I wonder why…

1.       There’s too much for us to worry about.

2.       People think it was an isolated incident.

3.       Official sports organizations feel it’s beyond their jurisdiction.

4.       THEY have too much to worry about…coaching scandals, etc.

5.       If the NCAA or the school were to take disciplinary action, it might suggest some responsibility and make them liable in future incidents.

6.       People are willing to tolerate a certain amount of rowdiness connected to sports.

7.       We’re getting used to protestors and demonstrators in all kinds of situations for all kinds of reasons.

But, the incident bothered me for three reasons.

First -- the worst part is that it happened twice. The first night cars were overturned and couches were set on fire. (Not sure where the couches came from…) Members of the crowd threw bottles and rocks at the police.

Wasn’t that enough to get some attention?

Before the second game two nights later, the university president and the police issued statements warning that riots “would not be tolerated” after the championship. After the second game the crowd was larger, the damage more extensive, and one fan was shot and ended up having his wounded foot amputated. Arrests were made but still there was not much criticism by anyone in the media or connected to the event.  

Second -- it was so pointless. What does winning a game have to do with damaging property and attacking the police? What it probably has to do with it is…alcohol. Lots and lots of it consumed in bars during the game.

It becomes more bothersome when you look at the situation through the eyes of two types of people: The players on the team who work hard throughout the year to achieve this milestone. And the police whose job it was to maintain order with sloppy drunk, out-of-control fans. Impossible job.

I tend not to like crowds anyway. Especially crowds like those. And somehow, it seems that someone connected with these championships could send a message loud and clear that fans would respect.

If you’re interested in knowing more, here are two interesting links.  The first is a photography site with images of the fans in the street – wouldn’t you be so proud if those in the photos were your son or daughter?? The second is an account of the incident, while in an accompanying video, two sportscasters go over the game in great detail.

I also found a thought-provoking essay written in 2008 by then-president of the NCAA Myles Brand (who died in 2009). He addresses, not the behavior of fans in the streets after a victory, but the behavior of fans in the stands during the game.

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