Vancouver Riot Overshadowed by the Spirit of Sport

Notes to the VPD

Image Credit: Downtown Vancouver (Facebook Page) *Anonymous Photographer*

Sport and competition have the clear and undeniable power of connecting people.  Over and over again, we see proof of this power all over the world. Most notably in Canada, the sport of hockey holds this distinction.  Across the country, hockey represents a common thread sturdy enough to link the masses of individuals.  Hockey is the awning under which people from different cultures, beliefs and personalities gather and connect.  Whether it’s a pick-up floor hockey game at a gymnasium, a scheduled match in an amateur ice hockey league, or rooting in the stands for the local professional hockey team, many people find themselves enjoying the company of friends and random strangers with whom they would never connect in their everyday life.  An example of human bonding superseding individual boundaries.

In essence, the spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind.  From time to time, this intrinsic value of competition is challenged (and sometimes compromised) by way of cheating (i.e. doping).  Even the basic characteristic of human emotions provide a challenge to the spirit of sport.  Emotions are core to humanity, and expectantly go hand-in-hand with sports.  Joy and sadness, fear and anger, anticipation and surprise… these, and other basic sets of emotions factor in greatly with the performance of a team, an athlete, and the fanatic.  However, it’s each and everybody’s individual responsibility to effectively process and constructively utilize these emotions.

Over the course of the 2010 Olympic Winter games in Vancouver, BC, we witnessed the power that sport and competition hold over bringing people together.  No matter which country an athlete represented, which sport an athlete competed in, or which corner of the world a fan traveled from, the positive tangent associated with the spirit of sport was displayed in grandiose scale.  The atmosphere was electrifying and contagious, alive with celebration and comradery.  On the flip-side, the recent happenings in downtown Vancouver, following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs provides us with evidence that this sport/emotion dance can play out along the negative tangent as well.

It was highly disappointing how ‘herd mentality‘ (a constantly studied and researched topic by social psychologists) played its part in the aftermath of the Vancouver/Boston Stanley Cup final.  To the gut-wrenching disgust of many Vancouverites, British Columbians and Canadians, the planning and implementation of violent acts by a small number of individuals initiated a domino effect which culminated in everything from physical violence to property destruction and looting.

Though the events of the evening have left a bitter taste in the mouths, and deep sorrow in the minds, of many… the greater population hold true to the spirit of sport, despite the home team’s defeat.  They strive to overshadow the negative impact placed upon the city by verbally and publicly opposing, and condemning, the acts propagated by the senseless few.  The actions of a small group, and the media focus highlighting their deeds, does not define the spirit of the greater population.  Focus is now placed on the restoration of Vancouver’s reputation and image.  Through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flikr, etc.), people have congregated to dispel the effects of the riots and show support to the police, firefighters and paramedics who placed themselves in harm’s way.

Many videos, pictures, articles and pages can be found through our connections to social media.  Here are a few examples of how social media is being utilized to combat the effects of the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot:

Downtown Vancouver Facebook Page Photo Albums (collection of photos showing the true spirit of the city and its fans.)
Vancouver Riot Pictures: Post Your Photos (A Facebook page asking individuals to post photos of rioters for the purpose of assisting police in identifying and prosecuting those involved.)
Vancouverriot.com (An online blog also set up to identify and highlight those responsible.)

The Citizen Wall

Photo Credit: Christa Olson

If we look at the efforts of the many who openly condemn the actions that took place in Vancouver on June 15th, 2011, we witness the spirit of sport.  Sport becomes a metaphor of everything you do in life and of all the amazing and serendipitous things that happen, which in turn makes you a winner.  A winner is one who (paradoxically) lets go the need to win and in the process becomes victorious.  By elevating your internal athlete, without the need to win, victory is yours.  How we exhibit excellence is by our choosing. The city of Vancouver and its greater population choose to display this excellence….. exhibiting the true spirit of sport.

Please leave a comment about how you feel the spirit of sport is alive in Vancouver. The more we comment, the greater effect we will have to overshadow the tarnished image of the city of Vancouver, its fans and humanity as a whole.

 

 

Ref: (1) The Spirit Of Sport: Rajgopal Nidamboor (re: Jerry Lynch – sports psychologist; Chungliang Al Huang – Ta’i-Chi Master)

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