The hooliganism a week ago by some Eagles fans toward some Vikings fans attending the game in Philadelphia has received considerable media attention. People behaving badly can be found everywhere. But the Philadelphia mayhem raised the issue of differences among people from various parts of the country in their interests, pastimes and, ultimately, behaviors.
To a degree, deviations in these mannerisms can be positively correlated to the types of landscapes, and the openness of those landscapes, that surround people, region by region. The lifestyles, traditions and mores of people in the mountain West, for example, are different from those of people in Miami.
Population density is another factor in attitudes — witness people living in New York vs. those living in any Mayberry-size town in the Midwest. The ease or difficulty with which people can escape madding crowds, particularly to natural areas, also weighs on public mind-sets.
The size and quality of natural areas available for such escapes, and the wildlife they support, also are components. Modern stresses are best counterbalanced by places that inspire, such as the boundary waters, not simply those that provide convenient diversion, e.g., city parks.
None of this is absolute. All kinds of people, good and bad, can be found in all kinds of places. And it’s true that people in crowds will act in ways they wouldn’t if alone.
Especially if they’re drunk.
But it remains a reasonable guess that the less constricted people are, and the more opportunities they have to seek solace in nature and/or to participate in outdoor recreation — from hiking to hunting, fishing to biking, climbing to boating — the saner and more agreeable they will be, regardless of the fortunes of their favorite ballclub.
Put another way, most people who regularly integrate nature into their lives are mostly content most of the time — and therefore unlikely candidates to heave beer cans at opponents’ team buses, as happened to the Vikings last week in Philadelphia.
So, OK, the Vikings aren’t in the Super Bowl.
But measured by the amount of open space this state provides its residents, and gauged also by its landscape variations and the nature-based recreation — and inspiration — those variations provide, Minnesota remains a winner.
Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, whose teams, the Patriots and Eagles, are in town for the big game next Sunday, also score points here. Each has a reasonable number of state parks and other outdoor amenities. And the Appalachian Trail wends through both states.
Yet significant land, water and open-space differences exist between them and Minnesota.
Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, for example, are both “east-west’’ states, meaning they are longer, east to west, than they are tall, north to south. Consequently, they have fewer landscape variations than Minnesota, a “north-south’’ state with multiple “biomes’’ highlighted by hardwoods bluff lands, prairies, farmlands, and northern forests.
Some commonalities exist: Each of the three states is inhabited by deer, bears, ducks and geese, among other wildlife. But only Minnesota has wolves and moose.
Nationwide among anglers, Massachusetts is perhaps best known for its striped bass fishing, which has been great sport since colonial times. And in Pennsylvania, deer hunting is virtually a lifestyle: More than 330,000 whitetails were killed in the Keystone State in 2016, compared to 173,213 in Minnesota.
Take a look at the measures below, which generally compare the three states’ physical characteristics and the outdoors opportunities they afford. Infer from them what you will. But don’t throw beer cans.
Dennis Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org