Egypt Soccer Riot Tragedy Should Shake Up Complacent Americans (VIDEO)

soccer riotAmericans are watching the rising death toll from a soccer match in Egypt turned horrifying riot with the benefit of distance today. It's sad and shocking. And yet the 74 people reportedly trampled and stabbed to death and the 1,000 or more injured are far away across the ocean. These kinds of things happen -- sadly -- often at foreign soccer matches. They don't happen here ... yet.

I hate the thought, and yet watching the melee at the stadium in Port Said where fans of home team Al-Masry stormed on to the field following an upset 3-1 victory against Al-Ahly, my good old-fashioned American confidence was shaken. We expect to be safe at mass gatherings because, well, why not?


Part of it comes from the enhanced security procedures since 9/11/01. But it's more than that. We as Americans expect civil behavior at public gatherings. There might be one boorish lout, but by and large, we are complacent about the threat that so many people in one place pose. After all, who in their right mind would bring in knives and storm the field (or stage)?

Who indeed?

People in Ghana, people in Argentina, people in Italy, people in Peru ... in places all around the world, similar tragedies have happened over the years. So why NOT here? We have mass gatherings too. We bring thousands of people together every day for marches and rallies and concerts and games. And security measures only go so far.

When was the last time you got felt up by security at the gate to a concert to make sure you didn't have a knife strapped to your leg? For me, that's a never. People can sneak in plenty of dangerous items, and if they plan ahead, that means lots of people with dangerous weapons.

On the other hand, when was the last time you were sitting on the packed lawn at a concert, completely unable to escape the group of drunks fighting over who stepped on whose blanket? For me, it was just last summer (the irony that it was an Elton John concert is not lost on me). Again, with some pre-planning, a group can quickly turn a bunch of beer-happy concertgoers into bodies smashed into the dirt. It can look like this:

The police in Epypt are being criticized right and left for their ineptitude, and footage of them seeming to stand by and watch the riot happen in front of their eyes supports that. But let's just think logistically for a second. In crowds of thousands, the numbers have it. Some crazies who don't care about being pepper sprayed or even shot have the advantage.

As we mourn for the lives lost in Egypt today, this is the lesson for those of us here in America. Not to fear mass gatherings, but not to be complacent either.

Have you ever felt afraid for your life in a big crowd as things get out of hand?


Image via sigon1977sport/YouTube

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