Young Men and the Stanley Cup
I am not a sports fan and I’ve never been to a hockey game. However, as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother of men of various ages, I think young men (and a few women) fans were ill served by our politicians and the police in Vancouver during the Stanly cup riots of 2011. To be clear, none of my relatives, friends, or friends of relatives were involved in the riots. I am a disinterested but interested observer of the psychology of men and games.
Why am I bringing the riots up now? And why should I think young people active in the riots were ill served by our politicians and the police? Am I suggesting that the young people involved in trashing private property during the riots shouldn’t be punished? First, I think we should take a reflective look at the riots because Stanley Cup fever is here again, however this time the fever surrounding the Canucks might be called low grade. Spirits seem to be sagging, both on and off the ice, and ticket sales are down. By those in the know about hockey, the low ticket sales can be attributed solely to fans’ resentment against the long lock out. There is no mention as far as I know of a kind of bad karma hanging around in the Vancouver games lingering on from the aftermath of the 2011riots. However, these young people who were affected by the riots (primarily young men) were a bed rock of support for the Canucks and some of them are still awaiting trial for their alleged part in the riots.
Secondly, the reason I think young people were ill served by our politicians and police is because of the hypocrisy of the adults supporting the games. In every culture when young males are first maturing they look to the prevailing male culture to guide them in what it means to be a man. In our own culture, it is sports and love of sports that bring men together in great numbers. Sports in Canada means hockey. However talented a man may be in other fields, and whatever the other interests he may have, a young man must include enthusiasm for hockey in his persona (if he is a serious player in another sport he may be excused from loving hockey).
The prelude to the Stanley Cup game of 2011 was one of intense excitement. Everybody was talking about what seemed to be the surety of the Canucks winning for Canada over the arrogant Americans. The excitement was huge. Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and Premier Christy Clarke both sported their Canuck jerseys and said wonderful things about the Canuck players which seemed to give some kind of official blessing to the event which meant the Canucks couldn’t possibly lose. The Stanley Cup was the Holy Grail and it would reside in Canada.
Returning to Vancouver from Vancouver Island on the afternoon of the big game I caught the same ferry that was loaded with swarms of young people headed for the game. They were loud, but not unruly, just hyped with excitement. I didn’t see any evidence of drinking, but then I wasn’t everywhere. However, everywhere on the boat you could hear them. The young people were singing. The entire boat seemed to be singing. And these young people were primarily singing Canada’s national anthem. That’s what they were singing…“Oh Canada.” They were obviously in a happy state, proud of their athletes and their country, of the adults in charge and proud of their own inclusion. And hockey had brought them to this wonderful exciting place.
The riots still nag at me because none of the adults with authority seemed to consider the possibility that the Canucks might lose. So how could the young people be prepared for the loss? The loss came as a huge shock to the hordes of young fans, gathered in the centre of Vancouver. What was wrong with the politicians and the police that they didn’t prepare for a loss? Didn’t make a plan B? On how to deal with a mass of hyped up, by this time some half tanked young males (again, I know a few women were involved in the violence, but it was over whelming young men) In case the game was lost? These young people were grieving. For the young men, If identification with hockey was the standard for manhood, and with emotional tensions heightened by such a close game, and then was lost, it must have seemed for the moment, to some of them, that so was their manhood.
In the middle of the riot, one young man kept shouting “We’re all Canadians here!”. In my opinion, he was trying to recapture that feeling of oneness with winners, with a country of winners. But the win had been stolen before under his nose and he was in grief. Along with a crowd of other stunned, grieving young people.
I am certainly not suggesting that the people who committed crimes that evening shouldn’t be punished. But they should have been, and should be punished, with a certain understanding of the prominent role that politicians and police played in the riots. Instead of acknowledging a certain role in hyping up the already overheated expectations, when it was lost and there was trouble, Christy Clark yanked off her Canuck jersey(so to speak), shook her finger at the young people and shouted “You can run but you can’t hide!”
OH, yes, Christy Clark was and is, the iron lady on crime. But If this were really true there wouldn’t be gang killings every other day in the province. Secondly, there would be an inquiry into the BC Rail Sale. Following this, in my opinion, if Christy Clark were indeed serious about being tough on crime, there would be a judicial inquiry into why six million dollars were given to Basi and Verk by Madam Justice Anne Mackenzie to plead guilty to their crimes so Christy Clark along with Gordon Campbell, wouldn’t be called to testify about their own possible wrong doing.
And the worst crime of all…mass murderer Willy Pickton received a reduced charge and sentence for the murder of numerous women from first to second degree murder because the jury found that there was no way Pickton could have murdered so many women without an accomplice or accomplices. Why hasn’t the province taken this up and searched without ceasing for the accomplice or accomplices in a series of the most heinous crimes committed in the history of civilization in peace time? Was everybody in government and law enforcement at the time afraid of the gangs? And are they still afraid of the gangs?
The politicians botched their duties to the province and to the young people by feeding the hype of “only winning counts” and by being unprepared for the loss. When young people are so egregiously misled about what is important and balanced in life I think we commit child neglect. If we must have a provincial premier and it seems we must, then let’s find one who understands people, particularly young people. We need politicians who can encourage young people to seek balance by acting balanced themselves. Politicians who constantly speak of “family values” and “families first” need to be watched very carefully…
I’m voting for the Green Party. I trust Elizabeth May. If she could convince the majority of her people to adopt into the Green Party platform the promise to borrow public money from the Bank of Canada at no interest instead of the private banks at compound interest when they became government, I think the Canadian Green Party would become the government of Canada so quickly it would astonish the world. This would mean more jobs for young people, less debt, less obsession with games, even hockey. Yes, even hockey.