scussions of violence in sports, like discussions of deviance, are often connected with people’s ideas about the moral condition of society as a whole. When athletes engage in quasi-criminal violence on the ﬁ eld or criminal violence off the ﬁ eld, many people see it as evidence that the moral foundation of society is eroding. They fear that young people who look up to athletes as role models are learning a warped sense of morality. Statements about violence in sports are often confusing. Some people say that violence is an inherent part of many games, whereas others say that it destroys the dynamics of games. Some people say that violence in sports reﬂ ects natu- ral tendencies among males in society, whereas others say that men use violence in sports to promote the idea that physical size and strength is a legitimate basis for maintaining power over others. Some say that violence in sports is worse today than ever before, whereas others say it is less common and less brutal than in the past. Contradictory statements and conclusions about violence in sports occur for four reasons. First, many people fail to deﬁ ne important terms in their discussions. They use words such as physical, assertive, tough, rough, competitive, intense, intimidating, risky, aggressive, destructive, and violent interchangeably. Second, they may not distinguish players from spectators, even though the dynam- ics of violence differ in these two groups. Third, they categorize all sports together, despite dif- ferences in meaning, purpose, organization, and amount of physical contact involved. Fourth, they may not distinguish the immediate, short-term effects of experiencing or watching violence in sports from more permanent, long-term effects. The goal of this chapter is to enable you to include information based on research and theo- ries in your discussions of violence in sports. Chapter content focuses on ﬁ ve topics: 1. A practical deﬁ nition of violence and related terms 2. A brief historical overview of violence in sports 3. On-the-ﬁ eld violence among players in vari- ous sports 4. Off-the-ﬁ eld violence among players and the impact of sports violence on their lives apart from sports 5. Violence among spectators who watch media coverage of sports and attend events in person In connection with the last three topics, I will use research ﬁ ndings to identify strategies for controlling violence on and off the ﬁ eld. WHAT IS VIOLENCE?
Violence is the use of excessive physical force, which causes or has obvious potential to cause harm or destruction. We often think of violence as actions that are illegal or unsanctioned, but there are situations in which the use of violence is encour- aged or approved in most groups or societies. For instance, when violence involves deviant under- conformity to social norms, it is often classiﬁ ed as illegal and sanctioned severely. However, when violence occurs in connection with enforcing norms, protecting people and property, or over- conforming to widely accepted norms, it may be approved and even lauded as necessary to pre- serve order, reafﬁ rm important social values, or entertain spectators. Therefore, violence may be tolerated, or even gloriﬁ ed, when soldiers, police, and athletes are perceived to be protecting peo- ple, reproducing accepted ideologies, or pursuing victories in the name of others. When violence occurs in connection with the widespread rejection of norms in a social world, it may be described as anarchy or lawless mayhem. When it occurs in connection with extreme meth- ods of social control or extreme overconformity to norms, it often is associated with a sense of moral righteousness, even when people are maimed or killed and property is destroyed. Under certain political conditions, this latter expression of vio- lence is tied to fascism and dictatorial leaders. In the case of sports, punching a referee who penalizes you or a coach...
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