Thursday, June 16, 2011

Violence and Sports do not belong together

First let me say that I am proud of the Vancouver Canucks who played hard to get to the Stanley Cup Final. Note the word played. We play sports. When we play there should be joy. Win or Lose. In schools and sports for younger children they don't even keep score as they believe it is about teaching children the love of sport, exercise and friendly competition. As children get older we are meant to teach them about good sportsmanship, fair play and winning with joy and losing with grace. The Canucks lost with respect for the other team and grace in losing.

However all these lessons seem to have been lost on a small portion of the more than 100,000 people that had filled the streets of Vancouver to watch this final game of the season. This small portion can blame the Canucks for their anger, an anger that incited riots, burnings and lootings - but they made this choice for violence, possibly even before the game began. Now this is not the first time that a small portion of a group has taken advantage of a situation like this - a festival or sporting event that draws large number of crowds - to bring out the very worst in themselves and a few around them. It is horrifying to watch and must have been even more horrible to be part of. Especially if you were one of the many who went with good intentions to share with your tribe of Vancouver fans an experience that is not often replicated. Hockey fans believe in their team, they believe in the power of team sports - it is disruptive individuals who started these riots - not fans.

As an Event Producer we learn about risk management. We learn terms such as crowd surge, crowd push and others - there is no term of "crowd control" as control is lost when we bring together large groups of people.  We rely on the support of the professionals - police, security, medical, fire, transit and more to assist us in planning for the safest management of crowds. During the Olympics we saw first hand that it is possible to bring together hundreds of thousands and to be safe. When individuals are bent on destruction, it becomes nearly impossible to stop them, and we have seen this over the years in hundreds of examples, from world wars to love festivals, 9-11 to last night's riots. We will continue to teach event professionals the importance of risk management, and to work with teams of professionals to keep people safe. 

As a human I feel shared shame that this has happened in our city and a belief that I still live in one of the greatest cities in the world, where the vast majority are warm, friendly Canadians who will rapidly restore our city to what it was. As a parent, I will continue to instill values in my children that are about the positive power of teamwork and also a strong sense of individual responsibility to make the right choice. Those that choose to violence - in any form - are not to be respected or joined.

I will continue to hold out hope and to plan carefully so that we can continue to safely enjoy events of all kinds that bring us together in the joy of shared experience.

I know many have thoughts to share, please do.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, shameful, but 3 big cheers to the Vancouvrites who spontaneously set about cleaning up other's mess. How sad that this was not as widely reported in the news.