Violence and Aggression in Sporting Contests: Economics, History and Policy

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  2. Athletes' Involvement in Violence and Aggression within the Context of Sports Competition
  3. Product description
  4. Sports Economics, Management and Policy | Dennis Coates | Springer
  5. Athletes' Involvement in Violence and Aggression within the Context of Sports Competition

Much of the violence appears to be related to socio- economic factors, such as poverty and class, but fan violence related to religion e. Arguably, hooliganism was at its highest point during the s and s in the UK. Two defining events in the history of hooliganism occurred in the latter half of the s and involved English hooligans. However, hooliganism still exists, as illustrated in Chap.

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However, fan violence has also been reported in some surprising places, such as Viet Nam Viet Nam News As the altercation was broken up, a fan threw his drink at Ron Artest of the Pacers, who leaped into the stands to exact revenge, thereby creating a riot within the confines of the arena. For readers interested in the minutia of fan violence, the drink in question was a Diet Coke.

Nine players were suspended, with Artest being suspended for the remainder of the season AP c. Violence and Aggression in Ancient Sports Much of the relationship between violence and sports in the ancient world derived from the connection between ancient sports and warfare. Sport had value as a tech- nique for military preparedness, and it also had value as a substitute for direct military conflict. Battlefield tactics required soldiers to be in excellent shape, and fighting skills learned from combat sports were invaluable during times of war.

It is believed that Greeks discovered the use of combat sports after the Battle of Marathon as a result of the hand-to-hand fighting that took place Poliakoff Violence in modern sports can be traced back to ancient sports where violence was an inevitable outcome. These ancient sports had few restrictions, and even those rules that did exist were not always enforced.

Many of these sports only concluded when one opponent succumbed to the superior strength of the winner. Scholars have debated the relationship between war, violence, and sports. There are two general perspectives. First, some researchers believe that humans have a need to discharge their natural aggression, which can be accomplished in war or in a substitute for war like violent sports. In the drive-discharge theory, war and sports are substitutes in the release of aggression.

Similar to the theory of catharsis, specta- tors use the viewing of aggression and violence to relieve their aggressive tension. Proponents of this theory would suggest that violence in ancient sports developed as a way to redirect the human need to discharge aggression toward a more contained and localized form of violence. Second, some researchers believe that violence in sports merely reflects the aggressive tendencies of society; the cultural-pattern theory suggests that the more warlike a society is the more likely warlike sports will be found in that society.

Athletes' Involvement in Violence and Aggression within the Context of Sports Competition

Proponents of this theory would suggest that violent sports in the ancient world were simply a reflection of the violent nature of a given society rather than a relatively safe means to discharge aggression Sipes Begun as a religious festival, the ancient Games consisted of athletic events, such as foot races and discus throwing, combat sports, such as boxing, pankration, and wres- tling, and equestrian events, such as chariot racing [information on the ancient Olympic Games is obtained from Poliakoff ].

Many of these sports have modern equivalents: foot racing and discus throwing are still alive in the modern Olympic Games, as are boxing and wrestling. The ancient sport of pankration is the predecessor of modern MMA competitions. Although equestrian events exist in the modern Olympic Games, the true descendent of the chariot race is found in modern- day motor racing.

The events with the most potential for violence were the combat sports and chariot racing, and these events appear to have become more violent with time. What is certain is that the ancient Games became much more brutal and barbaric after the Romans conquered the Greeks. The most violent Olympic combat-sport event, at least from the perspective of the Greeks, was boxing.

To the modern observer, an ancient Olympic boxing match would look very brutal indeed. Fighters generally wore leather straps over their hands, but this was essentially a bare-knuckle fist fight that only ended when some- one was forced to quit. Modern Olympic boxing seems downright genteel in com- parison.

An ancient Olympic match was not divided into rounds; instead, the match was over when a boxer held up a finger admitting defeat or when one of the combat- ants was knocked unconscious. One could speculate that more bouts ended in knock out than in capitulation. Lightly padded gloves were used by the Romans and Greeks for practice. In the fourth century BCE, the combatants started using heavier gloves that caused greater, and more dramatic, damage.

In contrast to boxing, the Greeks considered wrestling to be the least violent of the combat sports. A match consisted of a maximum of five rounds, and a wrestler had to score three falls against the opponent to be considered the winner. Similar to its modern cousins, a fall in ancient Olympic wrestling was defined as any part of the back or shoulder touching the ground.

Striking an opponent was one of the few tactics that was forbidden. Pankration was essentially a no-holds-barred brawl. Like boxing, there was only a single round in each pank- ration match, and the competition ended when a fighter signaled that he was no longer willing or able to continue the fight. The turns around the posts were the most exciting and dangerous part of the race; most of the excitement was for the specta- tors, and all of the danger was for the participants.

Deliberately running into another charioteer was illegal, but penalties for doing so were infrequently enforced. In the Roman era, a hard median was placed along the inside of the circus that allowed for even greater danger and excitement. The median allowed a charioteer to try to get in front of his opponent causing the opponent to crash into the barrier.


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The Greek charioteer generally held the reins in his hands, while the custom for the Roman charioteer was to wrap the reins around his waist. If a Roman charioteer was knocked from his perch, he would be dragged around the circus, an outcome that, no doubt, made the spectacle just that much more exciting to watch.

Although not a part of the ancient Olympic Games, gladiatorial combat was a violent sports spectacle that developed during the Roman Empire. Gladiatorial con- tests are thought to have started as part of a funeral ritual. The combat consisted of a battle between two gladiators, between a gladiator and an animal, between multiple gladiators and animals, or between groups of gladiators. Unlike ancient Olympic contestants, gladiators were not Roman citizens; instead they were prisoners, slaves, or poor noncitizens.

Anyone who was sentenced to the arena or to a gladiatorial school fought in the games until his death, unless he was freed. In the earliest gladi- atorial contests, death was considered the proper way to end a match.

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This life- ending outcome became less likely as the spectacle, and the gladiators themselves, became more popular. Blood Sports A blood sport is defined as any sport that involves the killing or shedding of blood of an animal. Such sports have long been a part of human society. Blood sports that are modern-day spectator sports include dog fighting, cock fighting, and bullfighting. Social acceptance of these sports varies greatly across countries and cultures. For instance, bull fighting has a special place in the culture of Spain and Mexico, and is practiced in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, but the spectacle is banned in many other countries.

Bull fighting is also practiced in Portugal where it is not a true blood sport because the bulls generally are not killed, at least not in the arena. No matter what one thinks of the ethics behind such sports, there is no arguing about the inherent violence of the event. One could argue that the existence of such sports is de facto evidence that humans enjoy watching violent spectacles, while the prohibition of these sports in many countries suggests that demand for violent spectacle varies over country and culture.

In the USA, such sports are generally banned and the consequences for being involved with these types of sports can be severe. One such sport is dog fighting, which dates back to the fifth Century BCE as an organized spectacle Kalof and Taylor Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 USA states, although the penalties vary by locality. Nonetheless, dog fighting exists in the USA, and the blood sport is accepted and even has a certain amount of social respect in some areas Mann A modern dog fighting contest consists of a match between two trained, fighting dogs.

These animals are placed in close proximity within a confined space, and the dogs fight until one dog is too injured to continue. Fans of dog fighting enjoy the aggressive fighting and consider dog fight- ing to be no more brutal than human combat sports. In , the worlds of dog fighting and professional sports converged. Vick was suspended by the NFL due to his legal issues, but he was rein- stated in and currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. However, it may also simply be that in a sport as violent and competitive as NFL football, mistreatment of animals is not seen as a big deal.

An equally ancient and brutal blood sport is cock fighting, which has probably existed since the chicken was domesticated around BCE McCaghy and Neal The contest involves gamecocks roosters specifically bred for fighting that are fitted with metal spurs or spikes around their ankles and placed in a pit to attack each other while bets on the outcome are made.

Cock fighting is an obsession in some parts of the world. Although cock fighting is illegal in all 50 states, and even being a spectator is a felony in most states, it is a multimillion dollar industry in the USA. Similar to fighting dogs, fighting cocks are revered in some circles for their tenacity and courage.

The University of South Carolina even has the gamecock as its mascot.

Sports Economics, Management and Policy | Dennis Coates | Springer

History records that except for one vote the gamecock would have become our national symbol. Or perhaps they make really good pets. Foremost, it is a big business practiced openly in major western countries, while dog and cock fighting exist mostly underground. Tour companies and chambers of commerce advertise bull fights as among the attrac- tions in the countries where bull fights take place. Unlike dog and cock fighting, bull fighting has been romanticized in western culture. For these reasons, bull fighting deserves a bit more attention in this chapter than its sister blood sports.

The versions practiced in Spain and in parts of France and its former colonies in the Americas differ from that which predominates in Portugal, and not simply because in the former the bull dies in the ring while in the latter it does not. Aside from the bull and the common ancestry of the spec- tacle, the primary similarity between Spanish and Portuguese bull fighting is the great deal of pomp and pageantry of the event, which begin with a parade of all the participants, except the bulls, entering the ring.

In both Portuguese and Spanish bull fights, horses and horsemen play a role. In the Spanish corrida, matadors are the top of the profession.


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  5. Trends in Demand for Bull Fighting: The Case of Spain The Spanish Interior Ministry records information on individuals who are registered as one of the types of corrida participants mentioned above. These data are currently available from to MIR, various years. In , there were a total of 7, individuals from within the European Community registered as corrida par- ticipants, an increase from a total number of registrants of 6, reported in The largest group in was the mozos de espada 1, , followed closely by the first class of novilleros 1, Matadors numbered only in , an increase from in The data show that there has been a steady increase in both the total number of participants and in the number of matadors since Although the sample is small, these data reveal no evidence that the demand for bull fighting in Spain is decreasing; on the contrary, the increase in participants may be indicative of an increase in demand.

    The Spanish Interior Ministry also records the number of corrida events each year. This information is available from to , although the method of reporting has changed somewhat over time and recent data are more detailed. Nonetheless, we can get a feel for the trend in the number of bull fight events over time. Of these, were corridas involving matadors from the top classification of experi- enced bull fighters. In , the number of events is broken down into festejos and minor festejos, with the former numbering 1, and the latter nearly 6, There were top-tier corridas in Examining data for each year, there is no obvious trend in the number of events, but a comparison of and does indicate that there was a drop in top-tier bull fights in Spain.

    One of their strategies is to make attendance at bull fights less attrac- tive for tourists, who generally make up a large percentage of spectators. Generally, local fans of the corrida de toros are older, while younger Spaniards have much less interest. There is an interesting dichotomy on the subject of bull fighting in Spain. Attendance at corridas across Spain was esti- mated at 30 million for the season Ideal Spain Finally, the limited data on bull fighting as a profession and the number of bull fighting events taken from the Interior Ministry reports discussed above do not convey evidence of an industry on the decline.

    Conclusion Throughout this chapter, we have seen how aggression and violence play, and have always played, a significant part in spectator sports, whether we are talking about modern sports like the extremely popular US-based NFL or ancient spectator sports like gladiatorial contests. Modern spectators take pleasure in, and ancient sports viewers enjoyed, the physical nature of sports, whether it be the grit and determina- tion of the gamecock or fighting dog or the energy and commitment of the NHL defenseman or NFL linebacker.

    Owners of modern teams and leagues appear to understand that violence and aggression, to a point, appeal to fans. In this way, rules and regulations for on-field behavior can be viewed as an attempt by leagues to encourage aggression and violence within given parameters, while simultaneously limiting the probability of player injury.

    Given the demand of fans and the encouragement of leagues and teams, it is no wonder that some athletes take violence too far. Whatever the reason, we spectators of modern sports enjoy watching players bring force and energy to the field and thrive off the spectacle the games bring. If one accepts the economic perspective, there are still some questions that must be answered. First of all, one would expect that the demand for violence and aggression would vary by sport and by culture.

    So, for a given sports league, how much violence and aggression do fans demand? Next, given the trade off between aggression and injury and given that there may be an upper bound of violence that is acceptable to fans, what is the appropriate level of restriction on violence and aggression to limit injuries while maximizing spectator demand? The remaining chapters of this book begin to deal with these and other economic and policy questions in professional spectator sports.

    Hopefully, these chapters will spur further research into the connection between aggressive and violent play and demand in sports. Sports Illustrated SI. Communication Quarterly 29 4 — Yahoo Sports, posted December Journal of Communication 27 3 — Sociological Review — Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. Search Results Results 1 -5 of 5.

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