18 Jun 2011
I think think the insane Vancouver hockey riot is why gay men are generally less interested in team/field sports than straight men. I say "generally" because I know there are plenty of gay football/rugby etc fans, but the fact is that gay men as a group are less interested.
When I was a kid I never liked having to play football in school. Not because I was un-sporty - though for years I thought i was because the only sports the school pushed the boys to play were field sports, and it wasn't until I discovered other sports like swimming or athletics that I even discovered I was actually athletic - but because the atmosphere of the game excluded me. Field sports encourage an aggressive alpha-male attitude and team (read "mob") mentality, that regularly bubbles over in to petty violence on the pitch, and occasionally in the stands. It many ways it mirrors the kind of aggressively heterosexual male atmosphere of Saturday night city centres that we gays are properly wary of. It's an atmosphere that is unwelcoming to anything "other", and in particular to gay people.
And I'm not saying that there is no place in the world for alpha-male, aggressively competitive male bonding - I'm just saying that it's not a comfortable place for gay men.
Whenever I find myself in a crowd of male sports fans, whether on the streets, on a train, or in a stadium, particularly when booze and excitement in is the air, even when the atmosphere is jolly and good-natured, it's always all too easy to see how given the right trigger, things could change. That mob aggression is always vaguely tangible beneath the surface, even just in the jolly chanting, the slagging off of the other team, the wolf whistling. Even the tribal wearing of the team jerseys, thousands of people broadcasting their allegiance to a single entity, makes me queasy. There's a reason armies are put in uniforms.
And I stress that I think there is definitely a role for that kind of testosterone driven aggression and competition - it's very often what has pushed civilization forward - but that doesn't mean I have to like it's sporting expression.
Anyway, here's a jaw-dropping video of what happens when booze, testosterone, competitiveness, aggression, alpha-male idiocy, and I suspect, summer heat, are combined in just the right measure.
Reader Lar, who was himself caught up in the insanity, sent me this picture of one of the rioters. Would make you proud to be Irish.
Lar also pointed out however, that very early the next morning, the decent citizens of Vancouver, appalled and embarrassed at what had happened over a stupid hockey game, came out in force to clean up the city.