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February 9, 2018

They stole a street lamp. Philly fans literally stole a street lamp. That was greased. To prevent it from being stolen. Am I the only one still stunned about this? Or have we just accepted that sports riots are a perpetually stupid part of athletics that will never go away? I can’t imagine that being the case, right? Winning a championship is important, but not important enough to go diving out of windows into crowds, lighting trees on fire, or rolling cars over into the street. All the while, Philadelphia police just kind of told everyone to go home. Sure, there were arrests, but there were no tear gas crackdowns, mass detainment, or physical violence against rioters. None that was particularly visible anyway.

This feels normal, to be honest. For sports, at least. It will likely happen in Los Angeles at some point. When the Bears and Bulls finally stop sucking again, there will likely be a similar riot. There will likely be massive property damage in the poor city unfortunate enough to host the winner of March’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. We’ll clutch our pearls, laugh at some spectacularly dumb decisions, shrug when the cops leave confused, and do it all over again next year. The moment the Browns win a Super Bowl, the city is for sure going to get trashed. We’ll call it “unrest” or “celebration,” and then nothing will happen.

Did I miss anything? By now, we’ve all seen the thinkpieces about how sports riots are somehow more acceptable than peaceful protest. If not, there are another handful every single year when some town with little experience in winning gets turned inside out. The argument is simple: protesters who are trying to fight for civil rights get arrested, sprayed with tear gas, and are met with militarized cops. Sports rioters get nice Twitter messages from local cops to go home, and some drunk idiots get booked for stealing a tree. I’m not going to retread why that is jacked up, here. If you think that is messed up, you know the problems. You know the reasons. If you don’t see an issue, and think those darned protesters should just shut up, there is nothing I can say to sway you.

Instead, this column makes a slightly different point. What do we lose whenever we have to rehash this? What happens to us when we have to prove year after year that maybe we shouldn’t be angry at some people kneeling during a song than people ripping public property out of concrete and dragging live wires across a street for fun? What does it say about us as a people that we need to have this talk?

Whatever it says, it isn’t pretty. Congrats, Philly. I guess.

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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