What’s Up With the Super Bowl Rioting in Philadelphia?

It was a celebration like none other in Center City and throughout Philadelphia after the Eagles won their first Super Bowl Championship. But there were fans who took the celebration too far Sunday night, causing damage in parts of the city.

The mayor’s office said earlier Monday that three arrests were made, though Philadelphia police have declined to release an official number so far.

The windows at Macy’s on Market Street were smashed, with glass and debris littering the sidewalk. By Monday morning, the store window had been boarded up and the glass had been cleared.

“The lion’s share of people celebrate peacefully, but you’re going to get some idiots out there that feel like, for whatever reason, they have to destroy property,” said Commissioner Richard Ross.

What’s the reason some people act like idiots?

Let’s not overanalyze it. The most likely reason? Overindulgence in alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions.

What about deeper causes? Whenever people riot or loot, always look for an attitude of entitlement.

An entitled person isn’t just celebrating the victory of a team he supports and admires. An entitled person feels like he deserves to do whatever he wants. Why? “Because my team finally won the Super Bowl.” It’s as if the team’s achievement is his own achievement. But how? By living in a city the team represents, at least in name and ownership.

It’s wrong and unhealthy, but it’s how some people feel. It’s what makes them “idiots”.

Ross said the sheer volume of people made it difficult for officers to respond to specific areas on Sunday night.

Fans could be seen climbing poles and the gates in front of City Hall, while traffic lights were brought to the ground in several places.

A video shows a car flipped onto its driver’s side at Broad and Walnut.

Meanwhile, outside the Ritz-Carlton, the entrance awning collapsed under the weight of a group of people who climbed on top of it.

Ross said some revelers and officers suffered minor injuries, including himself.

“They were working under some very difficult circumstances, bottles being thrown at them. Yours truly had one hit him in the head,” said Ross. “I don’t get what people do and why they do it.”

Fans we talked to didn’t understand it either.

“We won! There’s no reason to tear up! Be happy we won and keep moving,” said Dee Moses.

That’s a rational attitude. It presupposes the person feeling it does not go through life with a chip on his shoulder. But angry, generalized resentment is closely related to the entitlement mentality. “I never get what’s mine. Now’s my chance.”

To understand why Philadelphia embarrassed itself — as a city — following its triumph in the Super Bowl, we’d have to investigate why the entitlement attitude is so prevalent in that particular city, leading to the looting and destruction we saw.

And then there’s crowd psychology. There’s a euphoria in the celebration of a large crowd that undercuts the individuality of some people. Only the sternest and strongest of individualists can withstand it. And most people with that much individuality probably would avoid crowds in the first place.

You have to consider the type of person who would be drawn to a crowd to celebrate. I’m not saying they’re all the same. But I will speculate that, more than average, such persons are more likely to succumb to the mindset that, “Everyone else is doing it, so I can too!” They get caught up in the excitement of it, because in the moment — to them — it seems like a rare and special thing, something they want to fully experience. Call it psychological drunkenness, with no alcohol or drugs required.

Throw in heavy doses of alcohol and entitlement psychology, and there you have it.



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