The moment the Boston Red Sox got the final out of their brilliant 10-3 victory over the New York Yankees last week, undergraduates poured into the Yard, proving that, yes, Harvard kids can have fun. Yet these festivities do more than suggest that students at the College can occasionally break out of the mold and get a little rowdy. They also show that revelry after a sports victory can be safe—in sharp contrast with the riots at the same time downtown.
Rioting has increasingly become the preferred way, especially across college campuses, to demonstrate support for a team. Few were surprised that rioting erupted around Fenway Park after the Red Sox won the American League Championship Series to send them to their first World Series since 1986. Indeed, when the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, even greater pandemonium will occur. But it is just plain stupid to take out your excitement by turning over cars, pulling the sign off McDonald’s or setting fires. This kind of destructive misbehavior led to 16 injuries on Wednesday and, tragically, one death.
Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old Emerson University student downtown to watch the party, was hit in the eye with a pepper spray pellet shot by police officers trying to control the crowd of 80,000. While the Boston Police have accepted full responsibility in the death, actions need to be taken to prevent the use of possibly lethal weapons in situations like these. Though the pellets were intended to be safe, it is clear that they can kill. In fact, two other revelers were injured by the pellets. A simple solution is for the cops to stick to pepper spray.
Many Harvard students will want to venture downtown when the Red Sox finally reverse the curse. Those who go should take with them a heightened awareness of the dangers made clear last Wednesday night.Even if all of the fans want to be on their best behavior, large crowds and plenty of alcohol are a volatile mixture. When riots broke out after the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win this past year, one person was killed when a vehicle drove into fans.
The Harvard model for Red Sox celebration was ideal. Students were able to do just enough to make it significant—climbing on top of the T stop, forcing the police to close off Mass. Ave—without causing any injuries. The police in the Square helped contribute to this environment by keeping an eye on the situation but not forcing students to be too orderly.
The sight of the John Harvard statue dressed in Red Sox gear, the chants and screams from excited friends and singing along with the band to “10,000 Men of Harvard”—though not exactly a Red Sox song—were a great experience.
A Red Sox victory shouldn’t be ruined by injury or death, and we hope that what will certainly become the greatest party since the tea party, will also be something that will make Boston proud.