The championship victory, the eighth for the University of Kentucky, also led to a massive riot that broke out shortly after the game’s conclusion. Students and fans gathered together in a “celebration” of over 15,000, resulting in damages and injuries that kept authorities busy throughout the night. Local fire officials reported “more than 40 fires, including a car, several mattresses, couches and piles of garbage that were ignited.”
In addition, police arrested several dozen rioters on various charges, including public intoxication, “criminal mischief,” and disorderly conduct.
This behavior was, at least for the authorities, somewhat expected. The Wildcats’ previous victory over rival Louisville in the Final Four sparked similar a similar outburst which resulted in “couches ablaze” and overturned cars. While Twitter feeds reported the presence of police officers in riot gear, the groups had dispersed after only a few hours and injuries were few in number.
Last night, however, the violence had escalated. After an exchange between some people in a vehicle and a group on the sidewalk, a gun was fired “quite a few times” when individuals started getting out of the car. Battalion Chief of the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services Ed Davis reported witnessing the shooting firsthand, although the shooter quickly disappeared into the crowd and escaped behind several buildings. The victim, a man in his 30s, was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with “serious injuries that weren't believed to be life-threatening,” according to Police Lt. Clayton Roberts.
As of now, no arrests have been made for the shooting. Other injuries were minor, including some 25 others who were sent to the hospital for intoxication, being “hit by thrown objects, or [being] involved in fights.”
While worse things have certainly happened, it always tends to be a dark shadow over the achievements of both the players and organizations involved when events like this occur. The great thing about sports is that it allows for spirited competition to play itself out in a controlled environment – modern sports ought to pride itself on that fact. These athletes push themselves both physically and mentally in order to provide both entertainment and a sense of pride. All of it, however, takes place within a setting with rules and regulation. In a sense, it is “ordered passion.” While there are certainly more impressive things than putting a ball into a hoop or kicking it through a goal, the way in which these things are done actually gets at a certain height of humanity.
When these sorts of riots break out, then, we reduce ourselves and demean the accomplishments of our athletes. The ordered passion of sports turns into a destructive chaos that ought to embarrassing all around. While we fortunately avoided any deaths or life-threatening injuries, this incident does stand out as a warning for young people to be responsible and to respect the achievements of their athletes.