Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brandon Sinclair. I disagree.

"It's kind of expected, but, I don't know — it's kind of embarrassing in a way. But it kind of shows our passion in a way, if you think about it." -- Brandon Sinclair, 18, from The Fan 590 website
I didn't join my meditation group last night. I had intended to, but I was drawn to watch 'The Game'. Drawn to cheer on 'Canada' as two teams battled it out on the ice for the privilege of hoisting The Cup and the right to call themselves, Stanley Cup Champions.

Except, the battle wasn't on the ice. On the ice it was a game of two high-calibre teams pitted against each other in a bid to claim the cup. On the ice, it was a game, fought fairly. Fought with honour. Fought with passion. In the end, after the Boston Bruins took the first goal, it was a decisive 4-0 final win for the Bruins.

And it was over. All hopes dashed of bringing The Cup back to Canada. Except for the battle on the streets. Except for the mayhem that ensued outside the Rogers Stadium in Vancouver where the game was played.

That fight broke out in the waning moments of the game and raged late into the night. And in its passing along Granville and W. Georgia, in its sweeping through the downtown core of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it swept away 'the game' and left in its stead memories of violence and destruction.

"Grow-up Vancouver", people type in comment boxes all over the Internet. "It's just a game." "What a bunch of losers." "Dumb Canadians."

Oh Canada. What have we done?

The violence on the streets of Vancouver last night was not just Vancouver's mess. It is all our mess. It was not just a reflection of a game crowd gone wild. It was a reflection of a deeper ennui within our society. An ennui that says -- "Hey! It's game day. Let's get to the bar early. Let's start drinking and let's not stop until the game's over...." And then, the mess that follows.

It was not just Vancouver youth (it was a predominately young crowd, mostly males) rioting.

It was our youth. Our sons. Our daughters. These were our children hoisting drink after drink. Slugging back mickeys. Downing 24s and calling for more.

These were our children.

We have a problem Canada. We have a problem world.

Our youth are drinking themselves into frenzies. It is not just happening in Vancouver. It is happening all over the world.

What are we doing?

I saw it in Saskatoon when I was visiting C.C. a few weeks ago. One night we'd gone for a late dinner at a downtown restaurant. When we left, a concert was just ending at a theatre across the street. Suddenly, a swarm of 18 somethings erupted into the street. They were drunk. They were belligerent. They were fighting.

C.C. and I searched for safe egress but there was none. We had to walk past them. We hurried. Eyes straight ahead. Skirting the crowd as far as the roadway would allow us.

And we were both scared. Both concerned.

At one point, a young girl, obviously quite drunk, leapt forward, thrusting her face into the face of a young boy, also obviously drunk. She's screaming. The crowd is watching. Laughing. C.C. and I are looking around for police. "Don't you touch my boyfriend!" she screams at the young boy. "I'll f**ing take your face off!" Someone pulls her off. The boy laughs. And yet, you could see the wounded pride, the desire to save face. He looked around. Searching for something that would give him a sense of control. He kicked a concrete flowerpot. It's a good thing he had heavy boots on. It's probably a good thing he was drunk because his aim, and the velocity of his kick, were impaired by his state of being.

They rioted in Vancouver last night.

It was to be expected. 100,000 people stood outside watching the game on giant screens. And as many of them watched, they fuelled, 'their passion' with alcohol.

Large crowd. A hockey game. Alcohol.

They do not mix.

Yes. It is a black mark on a city I love.

It is a blemish on our Canadian identity.

But even more, it is an indication of something gravely wrong in our society. The belief we cannot enjoy an event without alcohol to fuel the fun.

Brandon Sinclair. I disagree.

There was no passion on the streets of Vancouver last night.

There was our Canadian identity. Our pride. Our honour. Our place in the world.

There was our humanity battered. Our youth storming and looting. Breaking glass and smashing flowerpots.

That was us on the streets last night. We were not passionate. We were angry. We were drunk. We were out of control.

And last night, we all lost.


Maureen said...

Our papers (we get three daily) all published articles and photos of the mess in Vancouver. Not so long ago, something similar happened at the University of Maryland; the destruction was unfathomable. It really is disgusting.

Louise Gallagher said...

That it is Maureen. Disgusting.

I am deeply concerned.

Anonymous said...

sadly, had the Calgary Flames suffered a similar fate on home turf in game 7 ... would the Red Mile retailers have not seen similar things in our streets? It is easy to blame Vancouver, liquor laws, young males . . . but surely some responsibility belongs at the print media/NHL/$/agents/TV that glorifies violence on ice for the fan culture that glorifies it off the ice

just my $0.02


trisha said...

glad that you broke the routine :)

Anonymous said...

Embarrassed in Vancouver. There are riots in other parts of the world, but they are fighting for their freedom, for a better life, not a lost game. We are a very spoiled society. There was no excuse for last nite..... it was only a game.

S. Etole said...

thank you for this ...

Anonymous said...

i didn't hear about the ruckus.

Josie said...

I am also deeply concerned about the prevalent attiude of today's young people that to get drunk, obnoxious, violent and destructive is an acceptible, even welcome way to "blow off steam". But then I look at some of the "adults" I know, who have taught by example that the only way to enjoy oneself is to overindulge in alcohol and suffer thru the resultant aftereffects the next day. Surely we can come up with better ways to celebrate life than that?!

Fi said...

Strong post, stronger message. Sadly the passion of competition is lost in the outrageous behaviour that usually has nothing whatsoever to do with the game but everything to do with alcohol and an excuse to act up.

You're right it's happening everywhere and is deeply concerning said...

My daughter lived in Vancouver during the Olympics, and learned to love the city and its people. She's away from news right now, but I know she will be horrified; it's almost as if they had to act up to correct the glory of the way they appeared during the Olympics. I wonder if light like that must always be balanced by dark -- like congregations that start out as beacons of faith and fall apart in anger and recriminations...