Rioters stole Rams’ spotlight

Robert Showah
Opinion Editor

Let’s talk about what happened Saturday night.

I am absolutely fatigued from having to even cover or hear about this overblown story, but I revisit Saturday night in hopes of expressing not primarily how certain students acted and reacted to authority, but more so the fact that we have allowed the idiotic actions of a few to rob the well-deserved recognition of our men’s basketball team for their outstanding season.

Let’s review. Our men’s basketball team, beyond all doubt, makes it into the NCAA tournament, is trashed talked to high heaven and then goes on to win the No. 11 seed in the Southwest region. They follow by defeating No. 6-seeded Georgetown, breaking the record of games won by the Rams in the tournament, and afterwards No. 3-seeded Purdue, both by 18 points.

Now in the Sweet 16, in an agonizingly close game, they knock off No. 10-seeded Florida State. Yet we forget. At this point our team has proven plenty but not enough, and they advance to the Elite Eight against No. 1-seeded Kansas where pundits and haters alike begin writing the Rams’ obituary. We beat Kansas by 10 and catapult to the Final Four we wish had ended differently.

By April 2 at the latest, VCU is on the national – and in some cases international – map winning more games in the NCAA tournament than any other CAA team. America falls in love with our resilient, underdog, cinematic rise. A team not intended to be in the tournament at all wins almost everything, short of the national championship. Yet some of us decided to riot.

Yes, riot. And many of us, through word-of-mouth and social networking, assisted in hijacking the attention of our returning men’s basketball team from Houston on Saturday night, into Sunday morning when the team returned, and on into the week.

The students responsible for the destruction were students who had no interest in the game. They used the celebrations that took place after the victories over Florida State and Kansas, as the most shallow excuse possible to pounce on an opportunity to riot in the event they heard VCU was defeated.

Certainly authorities and the university alike could have been better prepared to handle post-game reaction. For example, win or lose, an organized, barricaded rally should have been specifically announced and put together – perhaps on West Broad Street – to indicate to the crowd that this would not be another impromptu rush to the streets.

Despite this, I hold back from entirely criticizing the presence of the shielded police. Had they not been present and further chaos occurred, the community and media alike would have chewed them out for a delayed reaction. While the appearance of the police may have been provocative, students who used their appearance as an excuse to either cause damage or egg on other students to cause damage need to quit acting as though they are being victimized and take responsibility for their plans and actions before and after the police arrived.

Hopefully, the community will handle this better because chances are there will be a next time.

This bruise will heal, the flame of this story will burn out and the university will learn a lesson.

The same cannot be said for the perpetrators. Let’s take a moment to remember when our Rams carried us to the top of the nation. While chaos can headline our newspapers in the short-term, our team’s inspiring basketball season and the names of graduating seniors Rodriguez, Skeen, Nixon and Rozzell will be remembered for years and years to come.

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