Bench clearing brawls in baseball, bloody hockey fights, soccer mobs, post-game
sports riots, and increasing injuries are all images of today’s sports that are familiar to us.
In recent years players and fans alike have shown increased aggression when it comes to
sporting events. One of the most disturbing trends in sports is the increasing frequency
and severity of violence. Injuries and deaths among participants are on the rise, as are
injuries and deaths among fans and spectators. Violence in sports is an important issue
because sports themselves are an important aspect in our lives and the society we live in.
Their importance, however, should not be greater than our concern about preserving the
values and aspects of our society.
The problem of sports violence has become a worldwide phenomenon, that is an
unacceptable, growing social problem. Sports violence can be defined as behavior by a
player, coach, or fan that is intended to inflict pain or cause injury (Berger 8). Sports
violence causes harm, breaks the rules of the game, and is unrelated to the competitive
objectives of the sport.
Leonard identifies two forms of aggression in sports: Instrumental aggression,
which is non-emotional and task-oriented and reactive aggression, which has an underlying
emotional component, with harm as its goal(165). Violence is the outcome of reactive
aggression. There are three major theories of aggression in sports: The biological theory,
psychological theory, and the social learning theory(Leonard 170-171). The biological
theory sees aggression as a basic, innate human characteristic, in which sports is seen as a
socially acceptable way to discharge built-up aggression(170). The psychological theory
states that aggression is caused by frustration and is situational(170). In sports, frustration
can be caused by questionable calls by officials, failure to make a certain play, injuries,
heckling from spectators, or taunts by coaches and players. The social learning theory
maintains that aggressive behavior is learned through modeling and reinforced by rewards
and punishments(171). Each of these theories could play a role in the increasing violence
in sports. Athletes may be seeing sports as an outlet to vent there frustration and anger.
Young athletes often take sports heroes as role models and imitate their behavior, which
may lead to children imitating such aggressive behavior in their own sporting activities.
Many continue to argue that sports have always been violent and that...