Violence In Sports and Its Effect on Youth In America Today
Southern Adventist University
Sociology and Psychology of Sport
Professor Rod Bussey
December 10, 2013
The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of violence in sports. More specifically, the effect of violence in sports towards youth. As Jay Coakley (2009) points out in his book Sports in Society, when athletes engage in violence on or off the field, people see it as evidence that the “moral foundation of society is eroding” (p. 196). The fear from the general public is that young people who see athletes as role models are learning a “warped sense of morality” (Coakley, 2009, p.196). The effect of violence in sports, as this paper will examine, has a lasting effect on young people that often goes unnoticed. In American society, the values we try to promote are believed to be good. Dr. Stanley Eitzen (1996) of Colorado State University thinks “the values are meant to motivate and promote excellence, while making life interesting” (p.182). We believe that sports participation for children and youth prepares them for success in a competitive society while supplying them a number of positive character traits from participating in sports. A few characteristics include learning to “persevere, to sacrifice, to work hard, to follow orders, to work together with others, and to be self-disciplined” (Eitzen, 1996, p. 182). Looking at the positive effects of sports is an appropriate thing to do most often, as millions of people participate in sports for good reasons. However, learning and obtaining the positive traits listed earlier are not the only things being learned through the sports experience. The main topic is violence in sports, and this paper will help examine and uncover the ethical dilemmas provided in participating in sports. Before we go any further, what exactly is violence? As defined in his book, Coakley (2009) terms it as, “the use of excessive physical force, which causes or has obvious potential to cause harm or destruction” (p. 196). According to the Merrian-Webster Online Dictionary, it is “great destructive force or energy” (2013). As Paul Palango points out in his article, Child athletes: adult world turns blind eye to the violence, many of today’s popular sports encourage player aggression. Sports such as hockey, football, and boxing demand body checking, blocking, and tackling. The article goes on to describe how the culture of these sports can at time go beyond what the sport requires. Coaches, unfortunately, are the ones demanding their players to deliver that extra blow to the opponent, where all they are required to do is simply block or fundamentally tackle them (1985). The reality is human nature leans to children watching and imitating adults by what they do and what they say. With professional sports being so popular today, and the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) being on many television sets at home, children are watching every move like a hawk. Barry Melrose, an ESPN hockey announcer, described the attitude the hockey coach should have towards, stating “with the smart coach, fighting is a tool…fighting can be used to inspire your team, send a message, change momentum” (Coakley, 2009, p. 207). Another instance of fighting being promoted in professional sports is the New Orleans Saints “bounty scandal” which started in 2009. The Times-Picayune newspaper detailed the instance report by Katherine Terrell: March 2, 2012 - The NFL announces it has evidence Williams created a bounty program soon after his arrival in 2009. The NFL says the program lasted between 2009-2011 and as many as 22 to 27 players were involved. The NFL also accuses the Saints of putting bounties on Favre, Warner, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Williams issues a statement later...
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