We’re living out iconic — and at the same time personal and emotional — history. From the buildup of the season to the unexpected consecutive wins, some disappointments, and then just absolute heat in the kitchen! The men’s basketball team, our team, did that. Students of the University of Connecticut deserve to feel school pride from it. The bright side here is that if UConn is anything, it’s national basketball champs. 2014 was the last time UConn saw a men’s championship win like that. To see it happen again, right now in 2023, is pretty iconic. Most people don’t even realize how awesome it was to have been part of it all, even if it was just getting together with friends and family to collectively enjoy a successful basketball season. It’s like not realizing your picture was taken and put in Rolling Stone Magazine, but in this case, the picture is a memory, one you and everyone here at this moment got to experience. You might ask, “Wait, so you’re saying the men’s basketball team winning gave us an excuse to act out and vandalize our school?” Not at all. It’s funny because men finally did something right, but then you realize that because they won, the riot happened.
What makes this historic event controversial is the privilege we (some more so than others) have without realizing it’s there, and how those with it chose to display their school pride through violence. But things like this are common. If you really think about it the “riot” was inevitable. Why? Let me spill some good old-fashioned American lore… if there’s a chance to riot, we will riot! Or rock you, or any 70s/80s classic rock anthem. A social-psychological review by Gordon W. Russell affirms that “Spectator violence is a universal and ongoing concern in many nations…”
Displays like that aren’t exclusive to UConn; in fact, riots happen at many popular sporting events in America. The same psychological review states “Many sports have been plagued by unruly elements among their following throughout their history. Contemporary observers note alarming increases in spectator violence.” It says a lot about society and humans as a whole. Ah yes, we live in a society. But at the same time, it’s more than that. We hold so much power and influence over each other, more than we process sometimes, which is scary. Realizing that events like this happen all the time, and that like everything they have many layered perspectives because they affect many different people is the first step to uncovering the truth. “So the riot was good?” Well, I’m not condoning riots or hurting people and the environment, but I do believe chaos is a part of life that we can neither deny nor entirely avoid. For example, Carolyn Hagler explains for Smithsonian Magazine, “Hybrid solar eclipses are few and far between. The last one was in 2013, and the next will be in 2031” meaning it’s a special and powerful one. The important thing to note about this eclipse is the chaotic energy surrounding it, bringing me back to the point: Chaos ignites realizations. Those that are willing to see it and realize it can take away something so positively revealing it changes their lives. People usually (and understandably) choose ignorance over truth because these realizations can also be heartbreaking and world-shattering.
Realizations mean an opportunity for growth and positive change, and I think UConn deserves to grow. I love this school in my own way and I wish the best for it because education is important to me. Thus, those who saw and understood what happened probably learned something. Some realized that vandalizing our own school was a pretty bad idea even if they didn’t partake, and others saw how wrong it was and participated, yet somehow don’t feel guilty for it. Others only realized we as taxpayers and students end up paying for the repairs through inevitable tuition increases in the coming years. It’s true, just because UConn “has” the funds for repairs doesn’t mean we have the right to destroy it, but to view it as just a “taxpayer” or “tuition-payer” problem just shows how strong the capitalist chokehold is on American citizens. Most taxpayers and working adults will look at us, the youth of today, and wonder how reckless and unhinged our generation is. Maybe they’re right, and this is an accurate description. But aren’t young people always reckless? Haven’t young people always been reckless? Reckless actions, especially after sporting events, often happen. Don’t get mad because damage was done and your tax money might end up paying for it, get mad because damage was done for the wrong reasons.
The real truth comes from realizing most of these violent actions stem from unrealized privilege, especially in a culture that encourages individualism and self-entitlement. We are privileged enough to have this space where we supposedly get educated, decently fed and sometimes get treated like human beings. The beauty of attending an institution such as this is realizing we have each other. Collectively experiencing a national championship and its inevitable celebration allowed for collective realizations. Most of them came from conversations with friends and peers. Instead of getting reckless over sports, let’s riot for Black lives and the environment – these pressing issues deserve the spotlight, too.
Coming out of a narrow perspective and looking at the bigger picture, we’re all human, and the universe works in mysterious ways. There may be a right way to do things, but no one actually gets to do life the “right” way, not even a priest or a monk, because what exactly is the right way? Our free will means we won’t always do the right thing, and that’s why life is the way it is: chaotic, and very beautiful. At the end of the day, both good and bad things will happen, and the universe will always have to restore its balance between the two. It will always keep going, and that’s why unnatural things like a national championship and subsequent “riot” happen. It’s because we act out of unnatural states. But then the universe will have to come back to an equilibrium. People will once again be inspired by the world and want to change it for the better. Explains love and hate, pleasure and pain, thinking and feeing. It’s why America is one of the greediest countries, and also one of the “richest.” There will always be good and bad, there will always be “Karens” to judge, and there will always be those trolling and laughing. The world is vast, and some things just are, and always will be. Like us, we ARE the champions! At the end of the day, as students, we’re all just here to live, learn and grow. Experience the human condition which to us, right now, looks like this.