Violence in Sports - an Ethical Perspective

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Violence in sport has become far too commonplace. Aggressive sports such as football and hockey involve many aggressive tactics; however far too often do these aggressive tactics become overshadowed by deliberate acts of violence with the intent to cause bodily harm to an opponent. Many professional and non-profession athletes, as well as coaches, have adapted the mentality that winning is the common goal that all who participate in sport strive for and therefore feel that engaging in violent acts while competing should be permitted in achieving this goal. In sport winning is what each athlete strives for and seemingly they will consign in harmful acts of violence to achieve their goal. Former Boston Bruins player David Forbes was quoted “ I just don’t see, no matter how wrong the act is, how anything that happens in an athletic contest be criminal”, (Gillespie). The mentality of being above the law that most professional athletes possess does not only affect the game in which they are playing. Many athletes who execute physical acts of violence while competing are more prone to committing such violent acts in their everyday lives, most commonly domestic violence. (Harvard Law Review). Spectator violence and hooliganism are also primarily linked to the violence fans observe during sporting events. (Williams). Also, professional and amateur sport has become an integral part of our culture and society. Sports can be seen or heard, in one form or another, at any time of day or night. Professional athletes are amongst the most publicized people in the world. Thus, the words and actions of these athletes have been commonly mistaken as notions of acceptable conduct. Therefore, people, especially children, who view these acts of excessive and dangerous violence often imitate the aggressive acts they too frequently observe from professional and amateur athletes. The core of these on going problems is the lack of, or far too feeble disciplinary actions assigned to players who commit unlawful acts of violence while competing in sport. League officials must enforce harsh penalties for acts of violence during a sporting event. In more severe cases violence in sport should be treated as a criminal matter, where perpetrators can be tried and convicted in civil court. This paper will discuss the affects that violence in sport has on our society by discussing the sub branches of the Social Conflict Theory of sociology. In understanding the sociological affects of violence in sport it is possible to discuss how violence in sports affects our present day society, which closely follows Socrates’ pattern in achieving an ideal state. In applying Socrates’ pattern in achieving an ideal state along with the psychological aspects of Plato’s cardinal virtues it will be possible to come to an understanding on how to eliminate violence in sport. In conclusion, the paper will discuss why athletes, conscious of their actions or not, commit violent acts while competing by applying Psychologist Immanuel Kant’s Theory of Command Given by Reason.

Unpunished acts of violence that occur while competing that goes without punishment ultimately leads to violence acts while not competing. There have been numerous accounts of athletes performing physical assault while not competing. The most prevalent form of violence carried out by athletes off the playing field is domestic violence. Football coach Joe Paterno of Penn State University was quoted “I’m going to go home…..and beat up my wife” after a pre-season loss (Harvard Law Review [HLR], 1996 p.1048). Many people have speculated about why athletes are like likely to commit acts of domestic abuse. One of these speculations is that players such as enforcers “train to use violence and intimidation on the field and may have difficulty preventing these lessons from carrying over into their personal relationships”, (HLR, 1996 p.1050). Another, more logical speculation is that “sport has had a kind of sanctuary...
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