Vancouverites are bad sports, but who pays?
On Wednesday night when the Canucks lost in game seven of the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins it was reminiscent of their 1994 defeat in game seven to the New York Rangers. The disappointing game seven defeat wasn’t the only similarity. After both games, the city erupted in riots and acts of violence that included huge fires, violence against police, and fights.
The real dig? WE—You and I and the thousands of Vancouverites that did NOT throw rocks at police, tip over cars, or burn buildings—we will be paying for this stupidity for a long, long time.
As it is the City of Vancouver was left holding much of the incidental cost of the games: celebrations and policing that were estimated (before the riots) to cost over a million dollars. Now, with thousands more in clean-up costs, insurance claims, and medical expenses, that million dollar number is looking pretty good. And while the Province and Federal government makes money from the games by taxing food and liquor sales, the city gets no part of that sales tax. The city is left hoping that the ambiance of hosting the Stanley Cups will raise property values and thus increase their property tax revenue. (Unfortunately, right now, the Stanley ambiance is one of terror and destruction. Most people don’t pay extra for that when they can get it free so many places.)
Football, aka soccer, is commonly considered to have the most violent fans. A 1969 match between El Salvador and Honduras even started an actual, although brief, war. Hockey, you could argue, isn’t nearly as bad. Yet, for Canada, it might be worse. And, whereas there are many countries working on the issue of football hooliganism, who is working on solving the issue of hockey’s bad sports? Really, what is there to do? I guess we could ban the game from the city—no more Stanley Cups in our city (this might just happen on its own). Or, maybe, just no more loosing Stanley Cups in our city (this seems unlikely with the Canucks). What about charging the Anmoli Investment Group who owns both the Canucks franchise and the Rogers Arena for damage incited by their team. I like this idea, its sort of a “you are responsible for the company you keep model.”
In Europe there have been other suggestions that come from football: countries helping to pay for policing and prosecuting of perpetrators of post-game violence (but we can’t even get B.C. or the Federal Government to help pay for the police in our own home). The zero-tolerance towards fighting at the Olympics seemed to have helped control rioting, but it is hard to say if it is that or the shaking up of the teams or the hockey fans being forced to intermingle with figure skating (gasp!) fans.
As someone new to Hockey fandom, I would like to see someone have to pay. I would start with the fans that are caught misbehaving (many of them have been caught on tape), and I would continue with the suburbs whose fans are caught misbehaving (a little extra police help, please), and continue by sending a bill to Christy Clark (your kids play hockey--you know it is expensive) and Stephen Harper (the Federal Government makes money and the city pays... we just want a small share). I would keep on going from there... hockey team owners, the NHL, and—heck—how about loosing team? Pay up or we will send some Canucks fans after you to collect.
By Manda Aufochs Gillespie who is trying really hard to be a hockey fan and is even learning to iceskate in a secret hope that she, too, can incite riots one day.