Sport is an essential part of our life. It is a social activity of vital importance that evokes emotions, develops passion, and creates competition. Therefore, it must be detached from violence, as the main idea of sports competitions is to bring people together, not separate them.
Violence in sports has developed throughout ancient times. It was an accepted principle in the Roman Empire, where spectators endorsed and embraced it as a part of established norms and customs. In the past, aggression was considered necessary by the demand of playing to win, but today violence in sports is perceived as a social problem.
Sports violence can be defined as behavior which happens outside of the rules of the sport competition and causes injury. It is unconnected with real objectives of the sport. There are two forms of aggression in sports: instrumental and reactive. Instrumental kind is task-oriented and non-emotional, but reactive one is characterized by harming being its aim. That is how violence is the outcome of reactive aggression that comes over emotional component (Terry and Jackson, 1985).
There are numerous cases of violence among athletes and fans of team contact sports, such as soccer, hockey, football, boxing, baseball and basketball. The major amount of ferocity originates from the next sources: structure of the game and fulfillment of rules by management bodies and officials; group-coaches, parents, co-players; spectators, courts, media’s and society’s influence (Leonard, 1988).
Some sports are aggressive by their nature. For instance, in boxing physical attack is a part of the exercise. Martial arts and wrestling include one-on-one unprotected fight. Such manners of «violence» are within the rules of sport, and participants know the high potential of receiving athletic injury (Bernthal, 2003).
In contact sports, such as football, there is a grueling body contact within the rules using different tactics: high tackles, late tackles, and tackles on players without a ball. During the last years, these tactics have become more risky for disturbers, especially in professional games. Suspension can result into a considerable loss of income.
In professional sport athletes are likely to be seriously hurt;moreover,there are examples when players died during the competitions or trainings. All of them were young, strong and have put too much effort for victory.
There are numerous illustrations of people who have been taken from us, because of violence acts. Among team tragedies, one can mention Munich Olympics Terrorist Attack that had happened in 1972. It was organized by a group of Palestinian terrorists under the name “Black September”, who protested against Palestinian convicts in Israel. Firstly, terrorists killed two of their captives, and later nine other prisoners were murdered. In the result, 11 sportsmen and one police officer were shot. Later the government of Israel began military operation, which was called Operation Wrath of God.
Hence, it became a massive criminal homicide under the purpose to search for terrorist organizers. Though one incident of killings caused others and brought much sorrow in people’s life, the tragedy was the outcome of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and these two countries gone to war after it.
Andres Escobar was a famous Colombian footballer. He was shot during the FIFA World Cup in 1994. The Colombian football team defeated the American players in that match. Escobar was killed upon his returning home, as fans adjudged his guilty in the loss of that competition. Football was a matter of life for Escobar, and, unfortunately, it became a matter of his death.
This event shocked the world. Every year since his death, thousands of Colombians honor memory of the football star. Obviously, football is a dangerous game by its nature and especially for the reason of attracting uncontrolled fans. Passions are always high in football. Strong emotions are present among players and their fans. Thus, it has a potential for aggression and violence (Rees and Schnepel, 2009).
The Munich Olympics’ and Escobar’s incidents show that football has become a bloody sport.
The sport has been transformed into a leadingindustry, and some of its players head the list of the highest paid people in the world.Violence in sports has become a worldwide phenomenon, because there is no individual responsibility for it. Coaches and managers have a tendency to charge fans saying that violence attracts people to stadiums, as the risk of getting involved in some conflict makes the game even more attractive for them. Players frequently admit that they protest against violence, but being aggressive is what their coaches expect. Fans explain it by specific aspects of the game and athletes’ behavior in an aggressive manner. Spectators perceive violence as an integral part of some kinds of sports, as one cannot play games like football or hockey without violent actions.
The reasons of sport violence are described in the John Schneider’s concept. He emphasizes that the violence in sport reflects the violence found in society, crowd behavior, psychological stress, players’ aggression, genetic causation, and economic incentives. Violence in youth sports is growing due to parents and coaches having their wish win-at-all, and intolerable role models (Coakley, 1982).
The biological theory, suggested by Konrad Lorenz, introduces violence as a natural human feature, and sport is understood as a socially acceptable way to release aggression.In accordance to the psychological theory, anger is situational. It is caused by frustration that blocks a particular goal. Frustration is affected by heckling from spectators, questionable calls by officials, taunts by players or their coaches. The social learning theory states that violence is maintained by rewards and punishments. Young sportsmen consider famous athletes as examples, and, thus, reproduce their behavior. Teammates, coaches and parents, who maydemonstrate support for aggressive style of the game, can be also taken as role models.
Sports researchers finally came to the conclusion that the socialization included violent tactics as a part of the game in many sporting events. It is noted that athletes are role models in the society. Therefore, fans imitate their aggressiveness(Leonard, 1988).
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A lot depends on the natural human desire to win, and sport proclaims fighting and winning as its central goals. The success of sports commercialization suggests using striking examples of violence, but what we all forget is the fact that it is just a play, not real life.
There is no single decision to stop violence in sport, as its causes are multifaceted on and off the field. There is a variety of factors: economic, societal, and cultural. For example, problems in English soccer are frequently connected with poor living conditions. Many people confront a rise in soccer violence with the rise in unemployment. Young individuals with no employment and specific purpose often turn to violence as a demonstration of their negative emotions.
While exploring English soccer violence, one can notice that it is found in people who perceive aggressiveness as an integral part of a match. They often appear as provocative fighters of violence in the sports context. The world of sport is also affected by separations based on race, religion, and culture. The Scottish local derby between Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic is a case of religious conflict (Wann, Culver, Rubaba, Daglar& Smith, 2005).
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The nature of the sport itself is clearly a significant factor of violence, as well as the approach taken by the trainer. In highly professional games, victory always mean substantial gratuity that also influences players and their coaches.
In high-scoring sports, such as football and basketball, a referee’s conclusion about score seems to be not so decisive compared to low-scoring sports, like soccer, where it can lead to frustrations, crowding and violent displays. Alcohol use, especially by young male spectators, is one of the major reasons of fan’s misbehavior (Wann, 2002).
Sport is one of the major topics for discussion and public awareness. With the start of technological development and globalization, it is quite obvious that the media has greatly contributed to the promotion of modern sports. The function of the media has positive and negative sides.
Certainly, rough and violent play is given more airtime by the media than normal play, as these scenes raise TV ratings and increase sales of magazines, books and newspapers. From the other side, mass media just encourages what has happened, and any way of censorship is reacted to negatively by public. However, with a growing dissatisfaction with violence in sports, the design of equipment and some rules were changed according to physical characteristics. That is how modern sports arena was transformed in an effort to minimize violence.
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Thus, both sports and media depend on each other. Without one, the other will not achieve so much success or can even turn into a loss making event.
Governments should ensure that the media does not portray violence in sports, but rather promotes it as an amusing activity, where the players compete in a manner that does not cause harm or injury to others. The society needs to be open-minded on the nature of violence, not encouraging it in any way or form.
Obviously, violence in sport should be controlled by sports bodies and governments. Sports organizations consider that they have responsibility to control events on the field by judgment, while the role of police is controlling off-field occurrences.The number of the span of control affects both the group effectiveness and overall organizational effectiveness.
The cycle-of-violence in the society can be changed through various strategies and interventions and checked through a set of regulations and rules. Formalization refers to the situation when organization’s policies, procedures, and rules are documented. In this regard, sport organization with numerous rules and regulations depicts a formal structure (Wann, 2002).
Sport commissions should develop and adopt Codes of Behavior for officials, administrators, parents, teachers, coaches, spectators, players and media with the purpose to cover all attracted groups.
Officials with respect to all opponents have to censure unethical sporting behavior and bring it to established rules. Administrators should make sure that participants understand their duties and responsibilities, and supervision is provided by competent and qualified officials and coaches.
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Parents have to encourage children to take part in sport competitions according to its rules. Teachers’ Code should proclaim to instruct and promote appropriate sports behavior as one of basic skills. Coaches must develop team respect for the judgment of opposing coaches and officials, as well as for the abilities of their opponents.
In their turn, spectators ought to demonstrate proper social behavior by avoiding foul language or attacks on coaches, players, officials. Players are obliged to play by the rules, controlling their temper. The role of media is to put in proper perspective cases of sport violence rather than emphasize them. First of all, mass media must remember about their influence on children and teenagers.
Such Codes will reduce the level of violence through the education process changing society attitudes and by different penalties for breakers.
The International Society of Sport Psychology recommends reducing sports violence by the following proposals:
1. Administration should give penalties for the rule violating behavior. Punishments will have better disciplinary affect than potential reinforcement.
2. Supervision must guarantee appropriate coaching of teams.
3. Both officials and administrators should forbid the use of alcoholic drinks during sports competitions.
4. It is in the media competence to make an awareness campaign about aggression and violence in sport to decrease its level. The participation of coaches, officials, management, athletes and spectators will bring better results.
5. Athletes have to participate in programs aimed at decreasing their anger and aggression, thus, reducing violence effect. The focus must be put on skills for success’s achievement instead of the use of forcible methods (Terry and Jackson, 1985).
Coaches and physical educators are the key figures, who can form positive attitude in sport. Strategies for teaching children how to escape aggressive behavior in sports contain stress participation, presentation of positive role models, putting sports in perspective protesting against winning at all cost, and integration of values-oriented intervention tactics into the curriculum. Parents must be also involved in this process, as they have a serious impact on the child’s attitude towards sport.The focus on the young people is also an important aspect of the sports strategy.
Sports violence is usually described as physical violence, forgetting that even verbal or emotional violence are similarly destructive or damaging.
Violence and aggression in sports should not be tolerated or even encouraged by the members of society. It is a big social problem and must be admitted as the existing one. The environment of sport should be safe for its participants. Both the players and the spectators must learn the appropriate lessons for encouraging fair completion as a means for curtailing violence in sport. However, some degree of players’aggressiveness may be necessary for lively playing.
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It is suggested for various sports to expand their own codes of ethics that will work as guides for fans, players, coaches, officials and governing bodies. These have already been applied in some sports, but in different forms. Governments at federal and state level become more worried about the problem of sports violence and try to overcome it with some initiatives, but such problem needs to be solved on every level. Violence can be governed by effective police cooperation, strong cultural effect and social character of sport.Modern scientists tend to assume sport violence as an international problem. Thus, it must be deeply studied and solved universally.