American Football: Oakland riots highlight ugly side of US sport

In the latest outbreak of sports violence in the United States, riot police in Oakland used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of angry fans rampaging through parts of the Californian city after their team lost Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego on Sunday night.

In the latest outbreak of sports violence in the United States, riot police in Oakland used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of angry fans rampaging through parts of the Californian city after their team lost Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego on Sunday night.

The rioting fans left several streets strewn with burnt-out cars and smashed glass. One McDonald's restaurant was looted and set on fire. Three firefighters suffered injuries while at least 23 people were arrested, in most cases on charges of public drunkenness. When the trouble broke out, huge squads of officers marched through the streets and authorities closed off some areas of the city.

At one level, the fans' fury is explained by the comprehensive 48-21 defeat of the heavily fancied Oakland Raiders by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the largest losing margins in the history of the National Football League's showcase game. There was also bad blood between the two teams, heightened by the defection of Raiders' coach Jon Gruden to the Buccaneers ­ who seems to have used his knowledge of his former team to devastating effect.

But it is part of a trend about which the US has largely been in self-denial as it tut-tuts disapprovingly of the violence, primarily by soccer fans, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

Once upon time, at least according to myth, excesses by fans here were mere high jinks, most often a joyful response to victory rather than an explosion of rage upon defeat. Chicago Cubs fans fondly tell the tale of two of their number who ecstatically set fire to their car in St Louis after a baseball victory over their arch rivals, the St Louis Cardinals, thus depriving themselves of their transport home.

In general, however, the sheer size of the United States ruled out large contingents of visiting supporters. That is now changing. College football this season has been marred by several incidents. After one big game, Ohio State's victory over Michigan, 30 fires were set, while, after another game, one college athletics chief said she had feared for her life.

Even baseball, the supposedly gentle summer pastime, has witnessed ugly incidents. Last September a father and son ran on to the field at the Chicago White Sox's Comiskey Park to attack one of the base coaches of the visiting Kansas City Royals. Such episodes are replayed again and again on national television ­ which critics say only creates a copycat urge for other unruly fans.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before