Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Gary W. Potter

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Kristie R. Blevins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Peter B. Kraska

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


In the last three plus decades, considerable attention has been given to certain common phases in the life cycle of gatherings, demonstrations, and riots in the United States. Much of the study focuses on theoretical origin and social psychology associated with each type of event. There is considerably less empirical work regarding police reaction to these events, particularly concerning celebratory behavior following a sporting event. Celebratory incidents are less organized than their protests counterpart. A variety of fans with collective zeal gather in a common location without leadership or mission. Celebratory behavior has become commonplace amongst fans in cities with sports teams competing for prestigious victories in nearly all types of sporting contests. Post-game celebration may have a ritualized aspect and be "institutionalized," in the sense that participants and controllers expect them to happen. For public order maintenance, the strategic orientation used by police for celebratory crowds following these events has predominantly been paramilitary in nature both from an appearance and behavior aspect. Some research and social theory argue that a systemic culture of militarization in American police makes these incidents worse. To aid in this research a micro level case study from Lexington, Kentucky will examine post-games from two Final Four tournament years of celebratory behavior and the evolving strategies of police. Brief comparisons of police response from other agencies are discussed and analyzed with Lexington police response. Evolving police tactics and social theory combine to suggest that a relationship oriented response may be favored over a tactical approach to reduce crowd agitation or aggressive behavior during post-game celebration. Finally, considerations of police tactics toward a more relationship-oriented response are discussed.