Michael Rappaport

I'm a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, at least to the point that I actually found myself feeling a little bit anxious after the Boston Celtics took a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

I didn't care enough to watch the games, or to stay up late and learn the results, but I was pleased the next morning when I checked and saw that the Lakers had won game seven and completed their back-to-back titles.

Of course, after that always seems to come the rioting.

Or at least that's what we're supposed to believe.

It doesn't always happen. Did you know there was no rioting in New Orleans after the longest-suffering fans this side of Cleveland saw their Saints win Super Bowl XLIV?

So why is it we're so quick to assume that the winning fans are going to riot?

Maybe it's because we really do expect the worst of people these days. We expect our businessmen to be thieves, our politicians to be corrupt and our neighbors to be liars.

Of course they live up -- or down -- to our expectations.

It started 40-50 years ago, when poor people rioted in American cities. We were all quick to say that their lives were so bad that of course they wouldn't be happy and that it was our responsibility to make their lives better.

There's a disconnect there, a failure to understand that poor people were far more poor in the '30s, yet didn't riot. In the '30s, there was actually a feeling that accepting help made you something of a failure.

It may sound strange, but I think people took more pride in themselves and their families. Colin Powell says the difference is that we no longer feel shame, and I think he's right.

Winning a sports championship is nice is a civic pride, "hooray for our team" sort of way, but what's the connection between winning and rioting?


Or lack of pride?

Why not start demanding more of ourselves and our friends?

Why not at least limit the rioting to when we lose?

That makes as much sense as the alternative.