I thought Russ Rizzo, Hatchet editor in chief, made a lot of strong points in his April 4 (“Following the leaders turns ugly”) column.
As someone who was in downtown College Park celebrating the Maryland Terrapins’ first-ever NCAA men’s basketball championship, I can definitely understand the feeling of euphoria that comes with being associated with winning your sport’s highest prize. I can understand the desire of so many fans to congregate with thousands of just-met best friends to share the triumphant moment.
I cannot understand the burning desire of people to destroy property and openly defy authority in the guise of celebration. Mob mentality can only partly explain the reasons for the actions.
Coming out of a College Park Applebee’s restaurant after the players started their celebration on the Georgia Dome court, I heard one or two people say, “let’s riot.” It never made any sense to me that anyone could consider such blatant disregard for property and laws to be “cool” or to be in the name of celebration.
I’ll readily tell people that I was in the middle of downtown College Park in a celebratory mood, but I wasn’t interested in destroying property. I’ll admit I looked when one of the women riding a pair of shoulders lifted her shirt to expose her breasts. Because I’m gay, I didn’t look out of sexual interest; instead, it was a momentary voyeuristic impulse that made me want to see. But I steadfastly refused to be one of the many people to destroy property. I had my sense of conscience telling me that it was not the way to act in the wake of triumph.
My idea of celebration was confined to high-fives and hugs with people I had never met before because we suddenly shared one thing in common: our school’s team won a national championship.
The never-ending search for dignity in the wake of triumph may continue to elude the grasp of Maryland students in the years to come, but we can all hope.
Maryland’s NCAA title was the first in school history. That proves the old proverb that there is a first time for everything. Maybe there will be a first time that a crowd of zealous Maryland fans will only mill together to bask in the glow of victory, without causing mass destruction.
Maryland alumnus ’00