- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

They held a riot in College Park after the Terps claimed the national championship on Monday night.

A riot is the pain that often accompanies the pleasure of a major sporting event in America nowadays.

College Park is merely following the mindless precedent of Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit.

The nitwits in College Park started bonfires, threw bottles and measured the resolve of various shop owners and police along Route1.

They call this a celebration.

Others call it criminal activity.

There were 17 arrests, a number of injuries and one black eye for the University of Maryland.

They sure know how to spoil a feel-good moment in College Park.

Their logic was fascinating, which went as follows: Their team won. They smashed a store owner's window in joy.

They aren't too good after a tough loss either.

They tried to burn down College Park last year after the Terps lost to the Blue Devils in the Final Four. Give them this: They must believe that practice makes perfect.

It wouldn't be so bad if they limited the vandalism to their property.

However passionate they may be, they are not that stupid. They do not think clearly, but they think clearly enough to leave their possessions out of it.

In fact, they probably wouldn't like it much if you smashed a window to their place and lifted a television set. They probably wouldn't understand that kind of merrymaking. If anything, they probably would feel compelled to call the cops.

They feel no such sense of civic duty for the shop owner down the street. They do not feel his pain. They do not respect his property rights, not with coach Gary Williams and the Terps cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

They are beside themselves. They are giddy, elated, entitled to a souvenir, a new bicycle even. Why not? The Terps won, the Terps won, the Terps won. Go, Terps. Go, Lance Armstrong. He is a heck of a cyclist.

There's nothing like a national championship and a free bicycle.

The two go together like the university and the tragedy of Len Bias.

As one student told the Associated Press: "This is terrible. We finally start to lose the reputation as the Len Bias death school, and now we're known as the riot school."

Start a fire. Warm a nation's heart.

Most kids are taught not to play with matches when they are young. The nitwits in College Park must have missed that lesson in elementary school.

Most college students are smart enough to seek shelter if they are cold. The nitwits in College Park build fires with whatever material is handy and waste the energy and time of firefighters.

Memo to professors at Maryland: A remedial class in fire safety is necessary.

The urge to cut loose after the Terps defeated Indiana was strong.

How that urge is satisfied by trying to ram a police barricade through the window of an ice-cream shop is anyone's guess.

They recorded the points, rebounds and assists in Atlanta, the fire, broken glass and flying bottles in College Park.

Police fired pepper-spray pellets to quell the disturbance. How unreasonable was that? That was police brutality, is what it was. Weren't those officers ever young once, ever budding pyromaniacs, ever taken with the "Animal House" spirit? Didn't they understand? A college basketball championship is what it was all about.

If some property and people were damaged in the process, that was a very small price to pay.

Hopefully, the nitwits in College Park will be required to pay the price as well.

Here's a suggestion: When it is time to sentence the nitwits, do as they do. Treat their property as a potential statement.

Require the nitwits to relinquish one or two of their precious items and have the stuff transported to a central location. A car would be nice. Once there, stack the stuff in a heap, set a time and advertise it as the bonfire of all bonfires. Invite Williams and the players. Charge admission.

We're all feeling good because of the Maryland basketball team. Maybe we're missing out on something.

Burn, baby, burn at Riot U.


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