Violence is a common theme associated with many sports all over the world. There is also a perception by the general public that perceives sports as curbing violence amongst adolescents and youth involved. Unfortunately, there are also studies that suggest the exact opposite; that sports create violence practices and norms for those all parties involved. The fact is that it is nearly impossible to determine if sports programs have the ability to deter or magnify violence. The article and current event examined how sports influence peoples’ violent actions. This review of these publications will analyze each on the common perception that sports impede violence and view the inverse perception that sports produce violence.
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To begin with, sports are commonly believed by society as a deterrent of violence in the real world. The rigid structure that makes up organized sports combined with the common law rules of the game shared even in pick-up games is said to create a fraternal hierarchy where athletes leave confrontation on the court. Sports that are perceived to be violent in and of themselves like football and rugby are the main arguments for those who support this theory. After a rugby match it is traditional for the hosting team to serve the opposing squad with mass quantities of food and beer as a token of hospitality to the humility of the game. Likewise, in football the players line up or cloud the field to shake each others’ hands after the game has concluded. The events that take place after these games, despite possible feelings of disparity from the competitive nature of the games, are thought to be not only a measure of sportsmanship but also an exertion of pent up violence that is innate within all people. (Muntz, 2009). This assumption that humans are naturally violent and need to release aggression in order to not be violent in other situations is grounded in the survival of the fittest mentality; instead of the foregoing occurring in nature, it occurs on the battlefield of sport where aggression can be enforced in a controlled manner.
Moreover, current events, as displayed in the LAtimes.com article, Inside the CFL: Winners off the Field, show that advertised violence in sports themselves is accepted. In this article, the author severely criticizes a local Toronto politician for demonizing the Toronto Argonauts recent advertising campaign. The politician claims that the team’s recent advertisement stating, “Home is where the heart is. It’s also where we hurt people” insinuates that domestic violence in the home is acceptable. (Micheals, 2011, pg. 2) The team subsequently suppressed their campaign in order to curtail any notion that their team promotes domestic violence. Despite the writer’s severe critique of this politician, this event shows that professional teams are concerned about impressions that sports could encourage violence outside the context of the sport itself.
Conversely, many people, like the politician above, believe that sports are sending the wrong messages about violence by teaching continuous habits of violence and enforcing social norms that promote bullying. This group of individuals suggests that the constant habit forming rituals of slogans like, “give blood, play rugby” instill the idea into people that violence is an accepted norm of society. People who feel this way view this as the exact opposite goal of civilization by these people; the notion of civilization/society means that mankind has ventured away from a survival of the fittest mentality. This ideal suggests that it is against human nature to act violently because human beings have survived this long by diverging from their animalistic instincts in an attempt to preserve our species. The article in the International Journal of Sports Policy finds a large number of studies that suggest sports participation encourages violence. (Muntz, 2009).
Moreover, violence in sports can appear to transfer to real life situations when simply take out of context. The Politician noted in the LAtimes.com article was quoted saying, “the ad may… trigger traumatic responses in the many survivors of domestic violence who are courageously moving forward with their lives.” (Michaels, 2011, pg. 2). Depending upon how one viewed this ad either argument could be made for sports encouraging violence or sports creating their own battlefield for violence.
Finally, the foregoing seems to be the exact problem with an analysis of sports violence: It is impossible to objectively determine whether sports help or hinder violence. The study done on statistics of German adolescents in the International Journal of Sports Policy suggests that, “sport club participation does not automatically lead to a decrease or an increase in violence; it neither curbs nor reinforces violent [behaviors].” (Muntz, 316). Their study looked at adolescents from different educational, gender, cultural, and even different violence backgrounds. The overall impression is that the individual is to blame for their actions; although people cannot help where they grew up and under what circumstances they were raised, individual violence cannot be deterred by sports nor can violence be promoted by sport. This article makes a call to both spectrums to realize that sports in society are presented not as a solution for violence but as a way for people to stay in shape. The variables that contribute to violence in general are too varying to blame as being influenced by sports. Further, the LAtimes.com in the previously mentioned article that the Toronto team that ran the disputed ad campaign also ironically took part in an anti-violence campaign, where they visited schools to talk about effects of bullying.
In conclusion, violence is neither enhanced nor deterred by sports despite the ways sports promote violence within their boundaries and condemn it outside the lines. Both articles make excellent observations on current trends and events that seem to plague the minds of those concerned with violence whether they feel sports prevent or enhance violence. These popular views remain at odds with each other but violence will remain a part of sports so long as it continues to accelerate the competitive nature of the game.
Michaels, Ted. "Inside the CFL: Winners off the Field." LA Times. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.
Muntz, Michael, and Jürgen Baur. "The Role of Sports for Violence Prevention: Sport Club Participation and Violent Behavior Among Adolescents." International Journal of Sports Policy November 1.3 (2009): 305-21. Print.