While most of the UK fan base, better known as “Big Blue Nation”, are law abiding citizens that celebrate wins responsibly, there are a select few who just don’t know where to draw the line. Emergency crews put out at least 80 fires in the late Saturday night and early Sunday morning hours due to celebrating fans after the Wildcats big win over Wisconsin.
Trash cans, trees, wood piles and of course couches were the main targets for the pyromaniacs in Lexington but some crazed fans even lit their own shirts ablaze.
(UPDATE – Crews had to battle another 18 fires, including a house on State Street, in the early morning hours of Tuesday in the wake of the Cats loss to Connecticut.)
“It was chaotic out there”, said one concerned student. “I was out here after we beat Kansas (In the 2012 National Final) and it’s like Déjà vu all over again!” While the student claimed he wasn’t really scared of being injured from the celebrations he was concerned for others.
“My friends and I were just standing around in the parking lot of our apartment complex and saw a large group of people in the middle of the street. One guy took his shirt off and lit it on fire and twirled it over his head. Pieces of the shirt were flying off and hitting others standing near him.”
Speaking of peoples safety, there were at least 34 reported injuries that were treated at the hospital. Granted, some people went to the hospital on their own accord and those were not included in the 34 reported injuries but given the thousands of people that were out and about, that’s really not too bad of a number. Thankfully, just about every injury reported was minor. There was one man who was shot in the arm but the injuries he sustained do not appear to be life threatening.
(UPDATE – After the loss to Uconn, there were another 18 injuries reported including a man hit by a train.)
Police were also plenty busy in trying to keep somewhat of an order within the raucous crowds. Lexington Police Commander said more than 30 arrests were made among the sea of blue. “We could’ve made more arrests but we used discretion and realized it was a celebration.” There was also one reported gunshot wound in 2012 after the Cats beat Kansas in the national championship game.
Though police were called in with full riot gear in some parts, it was mainly a precautionary measure and not to get control of unruly fans. A few students even posed with the officers and took selfies with their electronic devices. While police say that they are pleased with their efforts and feel like the crowds were mainly law abiding, there have been many reports of property damage.
Damage from fires is obvious but also reports of stop signs being uprooted completely, cars with busted windows and dents as well as benches being destroyed at bust stops. While I mention all of this about the UK fans base, mostly college students have you, it is not like it’s only a problem there. Police in Stoors, Connecticut said they had similar problems and made over 20 arrests.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point that my beloved Cardinal Nation had some out of control fans last season. Immediately following the Cards win over Michigan, for their third national championship, fans poured out onto the streets of Fourth Street Live, Cardinal Towne and other popular hangouts to celebrate in the fashion that has become a norm. An ugly norm but still a norm.
While there was little property damage “reported”, police still made 23 arrests and had to use tear gas to heard a group of rowdy students out of the street after a police officer was hit in the head with a bottle. Like in Lexington and Stoors, there were only minor injuries reported but obviously it could have been much worse.
We all know that literally every sports team that has a fan base has fans that get too wild and unruly at times. Sometimes it’s because of a huge win and others its due to a humiliating loss. Regardless, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed or at least improved.
No matter who you choose to root for and how intense you choose to celebrate, if you can’t do it without destroying property and or hurting innocent people then you are no better than those rival fans that you talk so poorly about. My suggestion for everybody is to try and choose wisely on how you show off your teams colors. Choose wrongly and you may be showing off some colors you won’t like; black and white stripes and or orange.