Sports Violence


This report will briefly examine violence in sports. It will give possible
reasons for the increase in violence, why violence seems to be growing and what
we can do to curb this disturbing tend. While not all theories can we examined
here, the most relevant to the topic will be examined and discussed.


The purpose of this report is to bring into light one of the most talked
about problem in sports today, violence. Many people, spectators, coaches,
players and referees, of nearly all contact sports, have noted that there is
been a large increase in the number of violent encounters. Some believe that
this is a reflection of the problems with society today as a whole; that our
aggressions are simply let out on the playing field. Other people believe that
violence stems from the breakdown of basic family values at home. Whatever
philosophy you are inclined to believe, it is obvious that this is a growing,
and alarming problem. This is a problem that must be dealt with, to not only
protect players and referees, but to find out why we seem to be such an angry
society today. This topic is very close me, because I am a professional soccer
referee. I have dealt with numerous violence situations over the past eleven
years. In some cases, I have merely been a witness. In other cases, I was the
one whom the violence was committed upon.


My goal here is to determine why violence starting to take over our once, fun
and enjoyable sporting events. I believe that this outpouring of violence is
directly related to society. I believe it all comes down to a lack of respect;
Lack of respect for authority, for each other and for ourselves. I expect to
find out also, that our up bringing, and those that influence us, will have a
direct impact upon whether or not we become involved in violence in sports.


The type of research used primarily was observational and literature
investigations. I used many of my own experiences and knowledge to compose
several of my ideas. Also, I wanted to find as many outside sources as possible
to either support with claim to disprove it. Given the time period given to
complete endeavor, I believe that not all theories will be investigated.
However, all data collected is impartial and objective.

Analysis of Results

Sports violence can be defined as behavior which causes harm, occurs outside
of the rules of the sport, and is unrelated to the competitive objectives of the
sport (Terry and Jackson, p.2).( Leonard p. 165) identifies two forms of
aggression in sports. Instrumental aggression is non-emotional and
task-oriented. Reactive aggression has an underlying emotional component, with
harm as its goal. Violence is an outcome of reactive aggression.

An increase in both frequency and seriousness of acts of violence has been
well documented. Violence is most prevalent in team contact sports, such as ice
hockey, football, and rugby. While most occurrences of violence emanate from
players, others, including coaches, parents, fans, and the media, also
contribute to what has been described as an epidemic of violence in sports today
(Leonard, p. 166).

Considerable research has been done on spectator violence. A central issue is
whether fans incite player violence or reflect it (Debenedotte, p. 207). The
evidence is inconclusive. Spectators do take cues from players, coaches,
cheerleaders, and one another. Spectators often derive a sense of social
identity and self-esteem from a team. Emulation of favorite players is an
element of this identification. Group solidarity with players and coaches leads
to a view of opposing teams as enemies and fosters hostility towards the "outgroup"
and, by extension, its supporters, geographical locale, ethnic group, and
perceived social class (Lee, p. 45).

Mass media also contribute to the acceptability of sports. (Leonard p. 166)
maintains that the media occupies a paradoxical position. On the one hand it
affords ample exposure to sports-related violence via television, magazines,
newspapers, and radio, thus providing numerous examples to children who may
imitate such behavior. It glamorizes players, often the most controversial and
aggressive ones. Its commentary is laced with descriptions suggestive of

combat, linking excitement to violent action. On the other hand, the exposure
given to sports violence by the media has stimulated increased efforts to
control and prevent such behavior.

There are several leading theories about sport violence. The following are
the best examples that I encountered.

There are three major theories that seek to explain violent aggression in
sports (Terry and Jackson, p. 27; Leonard, pp. 170-71). The biological theory,
proposed most notably by Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz, sees aggression as