Restraining the riots

While the Phillies’ wins in the last two years have rejuvenated the city, fans’ reactions to engage in risky behavior afterward are neither safe nor ideal.

While the Phillies’ wins in the last two years have rejuvenated the city, fans’ reactions to engage in risky behavior afterward are neither safe nor ideal.

Despite feeling that sport-watching is a lackluster hobby, I was thrilled when the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in their second National League Championship Series victory in two years.Picture 5

But that tiny spark of enthusiasm I had inside me quickly dulled, as soon as I realized that Broad Street was shut down. That planned trip to Melrose Diner at 1501 Snyder Ave. wasn’t going to happen.

After the Phillies won Oct. 21, Andrew Bush of the press office for SEPTA said portions of John F. Kennedy Boulevard and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway were cut off. These blockings are appropriate for events that involve these streets being used as entertainment venues, such as the shows every year on July 4. They are not, however, fair or convenient when you are trying to get from point A to point B and your route is altered because of hundreds of rowdy fans.

When the Phillies won the World Series Oct. 29, 2008, an intense wave of happiness and joy swept through Philadelphia and its neighboring counties. Fans cheered, yelled, celebrated with drinks and proceeded to march to City Hall. It was at this point that things went sour.

That wave of happiness and joy was followed almost immediately by a wave of off-the-wall behavior. Cars were flipped, fires were started, and Phillies fans generally acted like barbarians as they formed a sea of red and white T-shirts on a path to City Hall.

This kind of celebration leaves me wondering what happened to the good old days of pouring Gatorade all over yourself and your friends when the home team won a game. Apparently, they’re long gone, since celebrating victories seems now to be all about the thrill of risky behavior.

“Risk-taking has two faces,” said Frank Farley, a psychology professor and former president of the American Psychological Association. “The negative shows itself in terms of criminal rule-breaking of civil life, such as tearing things down or setting things on fire.”

Farley, whose expertise is in risk-taking, said the positive face of risks include creativity, great accomplishment and inventiveness.

But Phillies fans are far from wearing the positive face of risk-taking.

Megan McEachin, a junior political science major and Phillies fan for two years and counting, recalls the riot last year. She described it as the “most insane time of my life.”

“I didn’t destroy anything, but I was there, and I left before the cops were [forced to take action],” she said. “It was very fun, but if I had to pay for the wreckage, then seeing random people pulling off bus stop overheads and hanging from posts would make me try and stop it, too.”

The Phillies victory two weeks ago and the ensuing chaos were nowhere near as bad as the incident last year. Blocking off Broad Street was probably a reason for this, though the blockage didn’t necessarily stop fans – especially Temple students – from trying to make their way to City Hall or gather on North Broad Street for a miniature celebration.

I know last year’s car-flipping, fire-starting celebration was primarily a result of the excitement of a 28-year wait for a World Series win. Adrenaline kicks in, and before you know it, you’re engaging in risky behavior because of the thrill and the rush.

But taking risks, regardless of adrenaline, is not conducive to your public record.

“If you take risks out in public, such as tearing a sign, police could catch you,” Farley said. “Your whole career could be impacted by something you did in an impulsive moment.”

While this is very true, the more important thing to remember is that this behavior endangers others. Philadelphia is already labeled as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities. Instead of having a round of beers at the bar or returning to our old Gatorade-pouring ways, fans that participate in these riots only add to the list of reasons why.

While this behavior goes on in other cities as well, this year we should try to have our (hopefully) celebratory fun in a more traditional, civilized way.

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at

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