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Aggression and Violence in Sports

Nov 9, 2007
For anyone living in the American society, it does not take a sociologist or a political scientist to call attention to which extend sports has permeated the American way of life. Newspapers devote an entire section of their daily editions to the coverage of sports such as golf , football, soccer, and more. Newsprint about sport surpasses even that given to economy, politics, or any other single topic of interest. Television brings into contemporary households over 1,200 hours of live and taped sporting events every year, sometimes disrupting the usual family life and other times it provides a collective focus to a family's attention.

Whether involved as spectators, participants, or sponsors, sport has been given an ideological foundation through the development of a belief system that outlines the supposed merits of sport. Sociologists support that sports open the door for the formation of amicable relationships between players, communities, racial groups, and even nations. Although sport has emerged as a relatively important element of people's dominant value system and has received unquestionable support from the vast majority over the globe, sports violence has not been accepted as a necessary ingredient of athletic societies. Since it is popularly believed that sports build character and provide outlet for aggressive energy, scholars have studied the implications of sport violence and scientists have come up with a number of theories to explain how human aggression brings violence into the sphere of sports.

Although the terms "aggression" and "violence" are frequently coupled in psychological reviews and books, an overt distinction between them is rarely drawn. According to Gerda Siann, a behavioral scientist, who attempts to separate the two terms, "Aggression involves the intention to hurt or emerge superior to others, does not necessarily involve physical injury (violence) and may or may not be regarded as being underpinned by different kinds of motives" (Siann, 1985).

In other words, violence may occur as a result of aggressive intent. This leads to another question; is violence always a result of aggressive intent? If violence is to be defined as the use of greater physical force or intent, is it possible to cite instances where such physical force is used to injure others without aggression being involved? If aggression is seen as the intentional infliction of injury to others, then any violence act must, if intended, be regarded as aggressive, according to the summative description Siann has proposed for aggression. This hypothesis, directly relates the issue to the theory of motivation. Sports are based on motivation theories since the core of athletic competition is linked to the human compulsion towards excellence and superiority. Thus, it seems logical to accept that sports are based on human motives (e.g. compulsion to win), which if not adequately fulfilled, can elicit extreme behavioral patterns (e.g. violent acts), which in turn are the byproducts of repressed aggression.
About the Author
Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Sports , Golf, and Recreation
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