You might’ve noticed some differences as you strolled around campus Tuesday morning after UConn’s Men’s Basketball team won Nationals. For starters, the lamp posts were not standing in their usual places, and while some were lying next to their base, others were gone completely. There were also news reporters camped outside of The Union, eager to interview any willing students about last night’s activities. Missing trees and windows had to be repaired — just a tiny reflection of the madness that had taken place the night before.
What’s with the hype?
I’d never been a sports fan until attending UConn, so I’ve never wholly comprehended the joy a community can share for its favorite sports team until that Monday. And I’ll be the first to say it: the energy inside Gampel Pavilion was magnetic. It’s not like you could know everyone inside that stadium, yet it felt like we were all a family. There was a rush and chaos as everyone flooded the court once they realized we would win. The screams and cheering and jumping and celebrating were all around you. If you came to the middle, you were being thrown around; it was hot and, at times, uncomfortable, but you were happy.
As I mentioned before, I’m a new sports fan, so I’m not sure if that’s a normal feeling if you’re a fan of a winning team, but for me personally, I’ve never felt anything like it. And the reason I’m describing this isn’t to justify all the events that happened after this, but for those who weren’t physically there, the scene needed to be set.
This was a time when people should have been celebrating and excited, but the way that people celebrated went beyond that, causing damage to the campus and, in some cases, injuring onlookers.
comparisons between UConn riots and BLM protests
After the game ended and everyone went crazy outside, many things started happening at once. The lamp posts were taken down, trees were shaken down and pulled from their roots, signs were ripped from the ground, and for some reason, fires were set and cars got flipped over. While I found it interesting that all the assailants were white men, I went back home to my dorm and didn’t think much about it until the following day.
On YikYak, people were talking about how even though there was a police presence, they found it interesting that no one was being teargassed or detained for their actions, unlike the protestors who were a part of the BLM protests in 2020. And it is interesting, but I also believe that it’s a different situation. Whether UConn can publicly admit it or not, they definitely were prepared to handle a “campus cleaning” the day after our team wins nationals. And the team of state troopers and police that were called in to mediate the situation were all aware of the crowd that they would be dealing with: drunk college students who would assumingly be engaging in stupid fun. I watched state troopers stand by their cars and shake their heads but laugh as students carried signs down the road and trees on their backs.
Sports are an easier topic to laugh about than the meaningless deaths of Black people by police. Sports are also not something that people from the same state tend to get into many heated disagreements over. And I can only imagine the headlines if white college students were tear-gassed or blasted with rubber bullets for destroying the campus that they personally pay to attend.
Sadly, our society and the current political climate make it easier for people to riot after a sports game than it is for them to riot after senseless murders.
But be rest assured there are still consequences…
in the end
While none of the consequences for the vandals will be physical, those who were recorded and caught will be arrested and most likely expelled, which is the perfect punishment for the perpetrators. Ultimately, I feel we all have to realize that life isn’t fair, society isn’t perfect, and the BLM movement vs. a sports win are in two completely different spheres. Enjoy the win, speak up for what you believe in, and Go Huskies!