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June 15, 1998
NHL Playoffs Wings Will Beat On Caps
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June 15, 1998


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Mindless revelry has become a postchampionship sports ritual, the ugly counterpart to cutting down the nets or going to Disney World. Fans pour into the streets to whoop it up by shooting guns, lighting fireworks and, in some cases, overturning cars and looting stores. The list of cities scarred by out-of-control celebrations over the years is long: Detroit in 1984 and '90; Chicago in '92 and '93; Montreal in '86 and '93; Dallas in '93. Although cities in recent years have celebrated far less destructively (Toronto in '93, New York in '96 and Chicago in '96 all were relatively peaceful), the effort to limit the damage is always a qualified success. As sure as Jordan has game, championship wins mean innocent people get hurt or killed.

Colin was one of them. The mortar-type firework set off by the neighbor exploded on the ground, injuring Colin and three friends, as well as the neighbor. Everyone but Colin suffered burns and recovered quickly. Colin lost his left eye and has undergone several operations to repair his eye socket and cheekbone.

At least he's alive. After the Bulls won in '93, two Chicagoans were killed by stray gunfire: a 12-year-old boy who was sitting in front of his house and a 26-year-old mother of two who was also in front of her building. In the Detroit riots of '90, which followed the Pistons' second title, eight people died, three of them children.

Most pro athletes feel little loyalty to the city for which they play, so why are so many fans willing to cross the line into dangerous behavior while honoring their team? Probably because this nonsensical outpouring of emotion has little to do with true fandom. Sociologists offer a wide range of reasons, from economic frustrations to the breakup of the nuclear family. Or maybe it's just about alcohol, pent-up aggression and a general disrespect for others. Whatever the origin of this behavior, it's costing cities millions of dollars and leaving a trail of innocent victims.

For this year's Finals, the NBA is financing public service announcements featuring Bulls and Jazz stars urging fans to celebrate with restraint. If sports-crazed fanatics need more incentive to stash their guns and fireworks, I offer the example of one young man whose vision no longer permits him a clear view of his favorite team.
Marty Burns

Dog Racing
The Bitch Is Back

Wilma, an Irish greyhound, finished last in a race at a track in Poole, England, on June 2. Clearly she had been saving herself. As the other dogs trotted to a stop, Wilma kept running, out of the park and onto a highway, still clad in her orange racing vest with the number 5 on it. For three days she remained at large, sighted here and there, including once by a motorist who called police to report that he had been overtaken by a speeding greyhound on a road five miles from the Poole track.

Last Friday evening the canine marathoner's long run came to a happy, if panting, end. She was spotted in an industrial park three miles from the track and returned to her trainer, Jo Burridge, who reported that despite her odyssey, Wilma didn't "seem to have lost any weight."

Shirley Povich (1905-1998)
Gentleman Journalist

On the day before the final day of his life, Shirley Povich, 92, filed his column to The Washington Post, something he first did in 1926, the year before Babe Ruth hit 60. He told sports editor George Solomon it was his "comeback column" because he hadn't been feeling well and hadn't written in a couple of weeks. In his careful prose Povich juxtaposed three contemporary subjects—Mark McGwire, David Wells and Buck Showalter—against their historical counterparts, Ruth, Don Larsen and Paul Richards. The column didn't sound like a curmudgeon complaining about today and glorifying the past. It sounded like Shirley Povich, a courtly gentleman to the end. "If anybody were to reawaken the fans to the glory of baseball by pitching the perfect game," wrote Povich in that final column, "the scene could have no more appropriate protagonist than David Wells, individualist."

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