Dr. Ervin Staub explains why sports-related riots occur citing research from the past 25 years on the testosterone levels of male sports fans upon their team winning or losing a game.
Wednesday night's riots in Vancouver over the Canucks' lost to the Boston Bruins in the last game of the Stanley Cup finals may seem shocking to Americans who view Canadians as our mild-mannered polite cousins. But there's a long tradition of hockey-related civil disturbance in the Great White North, dating at least as far back as 1955, when Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was suspended for 15 games, setting off rioting in Montreal.
Of course, the sports-related riot is practically an American tradition -- just ask Ohio State campus police and the LAPD -- and European soccer is known as much for its off-the-pitch violence as it is for FC Barcelona’s skill on it.
But why? What causes otherwise presumably sane and rational people to go nuts?
“People invest themselves, their identity, very much in the sports clubs,” explained Professor Ervin Staub, a psychologist and the founder of the program in Psychology of Peace and Violence at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “There is evidence that when a team loses, fans get a little depressed and when the team wins, they get a little high.”