Violence in sports

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Violence in sports usually refers to violent and often unnecessarily harmful intentional physical acts committed during, or motivated by, a sports game, often in relation to contact sports such as American football, ice hockey, rugby football, lacrosse, association football, boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, and water polo and, when referring to the players themselves, often involving excessively violent or potentially illegal physical contact beyond the normal levels of contact expected while playing the sport. These acts of violence can include intentional attempts to injure a player or coach by another player or coach, but can also include threats of physical harm or actual physical harm sustained by players or coaches by fans or those engaging in the spectating of sports, or threats and acts of violence performed by fans or spectators upon opposing fans or other spectators.

Contents

Causes

There are two major theories on the cause of violence in sports. One theory holds that humans have an instinct for violence, developed during a time when early human ancestors had to resort to violence and aggressiveness to survive and reproduce. Another theory deals with the sociological aspects of violence in sports, stating that sports are "mock battles" which can become actual battles due to their competitive nature. [1]

Violence by athletes

Through a "civilizing process", many modern sports have become less tolerant of bloodshed than past versions, although many violent aspects of these sports still remain. [1]

Athletes sometimes resort to violence, in hopes of injuring and intimidating opponents. Such incidents may be part of a strategy developed by coaches or players.

In boxing, unruly or extremely violent behavior by one of the contestants often results in the fighter breaking the rules being penalized with a points reduction, or, in extreme cases, disqualification. Outlawed tactics in boxing include hitting the opponent on the back of the head, under the belly during clinching, and to the back. Other tactics that are outlawed, but less seen, are pushing an opponent extremely hard to the floor, kicking, or hitting repeatedly after the round has ended. Similar actions have also happened in ice hockey and Australian Football League matches.

Ritual violence

High school, college, and even professional sports teams often include initiation ceremonies (known as hazing in the USA) as a rite of passage. A 1999 study by Alfred University and the NCAA found that approximately four out of five college US athletes (250,000 per year) experienced hazing. [2] Half were required to take part in alcohol-related initiations, while two-thirds were subjected to humiliation rituals.

Fan violence

Fans of the Minnesota Golden Gophers riot in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis after the Gophers won the 2003 Frozen Four UMN-hockeyriot-2003.jpg
Fans of the Minnesota Golden Gophers riot in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis after the Gophers won the 2003 Frozen Four
Unruly spectator cuffed and led away by Miami-Dade Police during NFL match between Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium, December 24, 2012. Football Hooligan.jpg
Unruly spectator cuffed and led away by Miami-Dade Police during NFL match between Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium, December 24, 2012.
Miami-Dade Police arrest female spectator during NFL match between Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium, December 24, 2012. Woman in Custody at Dolphins Game.jpg
Miami-Dade Police arrest female spectator during NFL match between Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium, December 24, 2012.

Violence may also be related to nationalism or as an outlet for underlying social tensions. It is often alcohol-related.

Violence by supporters of sports teams dates back to Roman times, when supporters of chariot racing teams were frequently involved in major riots. Usually, underlying political and/or theological issues helped fuel riots related to sporting events in the Roman era. The Nika riots of 532 were especially deadly, with tens of thousands reportedly killed.

In periods when theatre was considered a form of mass entertainment, there were phenomena of rival fans supporting rival actors or theatrical teams, occasionally leading to violent outbursts having many similarities to present-day violence of sports fans – the Astor Place Riot in 1849 New York City being a conspicuous example.

The actions of English football hooligans and firms in the 1980s caused English teams to be banned from European competition for six years after the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. Although the level of football-related violence was significantly reduced in England after this event, in the recent Euro 2004 tournament, England were publicly warned that any violence by supporters at matches could result in their ejection from the tournament. Many known hooligans were prevented from traveling to the tournament in Portugal. There was a collective sigh of relief from security experts in the USA when England failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Alan Rothenberg (chairman of the World Cup organizing committee in the United States in 1994) said:

There were three countries in the world whose presence would have created logistical and security problems, so we're very pleased they won't be coming: Iraq, Iran and England.

Notable examples of fan violence

Damaged vehicle in the aftermath of the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot Riot aftermath Vancouver.jpg
Damaged vehicle in the aftermath of the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot

Athlete violence

American football

Association football

Australian rules football

Baseball

Bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park because of Coco Crisp getting hit by a pitch by James Shields. Massive fenway brawl.jpg
Bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park because of Coco Crisp getting hit by a pitch by James Shields.

Basketball

Ice hockey

A fight between Shawn Thornton and Wade Brookbank. Fighting in ice hockey is an established tradition with a long history. ThorntonfightingBrookbank.jpg
A fight between Shawn Thornton and Wade Brookbank. Fighting in ice hockey is an established tradition with a long history.

Violence has been a part of ice hockey since at least the early 1900s. According to the book Hockey: A People's History , in 1904 alone, four players were killed during hockey games from the frequent brawls and violent stickwork. [45] Fighting in ice hockey is an established tradition of the sport in North America, with a long history involving many levels of amateur and professional play and including some notable individual fights. [46] While officials tolerate fighting during hockey games, they impose a variety of penalties on players who engage in fights. Unique to North American professional team sports, the National Hockey League (NHL) and most minor professional leagues in North America do not eject players outright for fighting [47] but major European and collegiate hockey leagues do. [48]

The debate over allowing fighting in ice hockey games is ongoing. Despite its potentially negative consequences, such as heavier enforcers (or "heavyweights") knocking each other out, some administrators are not considering eliminating fighting from the game, as some players consider it essential. [49] Additionally, the majority of fans oppose eliminating fights from professional hockey games. [50]

Rugby

Other sports

Related Research Articles

Hooliganism Disruptive or unlawful behavior such as rioting, bullying, and vandalism

Hooliganism is disruptive or unlawful behavior such as rioting, bullying and vandalism, usually in connection with crowds at sporting events.

Fighting in ice hockey Physical play in ice hockey

Fighting in ice hockey is an established tradition of the sport in North America, with a long history that involves many levels of amateur and professional play and includes some notable individual fights. Fighting may be performed by enforcers, or "goons" —players whose role is to fight and intimidate—on a given team, and is governed by a system of unwritten rules that players, coaches, officials, and the media refer to as "the code". Some fights are spontaneous, while others are premeditated by the participants. While officials tolerate fighting during hockey games, they impose a variety of penalties on players who engage in fights.

Violence in ice hockey

Violence has been a part of ice hockey since at least the early 1900s. According to the book Hockey: A People's History, in 1904 alone, four players were killed during hockey games from the frequent brawls and violent stickwork.

Football hooliganism Disorderly, violent or destructive behaviour perpetrated by spectators at association football events

Football hooliganism or soccer hooliganism is disorderly, violent or destructive behaviour perpetrated by spectators at association football events. Football hooliganism normally involves conflict between gangs, in English known as football firms, formed to intimidate and attack supporters of other teams. Other English-language terms commonly used in connection with hooligan firms include "army", "boys", "bods", "casuals", and "crew". Certain clubs have long-standing rivalries with other clubs and hooliganism associated with matches between them is likely to be more severe.

Ejection (sports)

In sports, an ejection is the removal of a participant from a contest due to a violation of the sport's rules. The exact violations that lead to an ejection vary depending upon the sport, but common causes for ejection include unsportsmanlike conduct, violent acts against another participant that are beyond the sport's generally accepted standards for such acts, abuse against officials, violations of the sport's rules that the contest official deems to be egregious, or the use of an illegal substance to better a player's game. Most sports have provisions that allow players to be ejected, and many allow for the ejection of coaches, managers, or other non-playing personnel.

Ten Cent Beer Night was a promotion held by Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians during a game against the Texas Rangers at Cleveland Stadium on Tuesday, June 4, 1974.

Bench-clearing brawl Ritual fight during a sporting match, especially ice hockey and baseball

A bench-clearing brawl is a form of ritualistic fighting that occurs in sports, most notably baseball and ice hockey, in which every player on both teams leaves their dugouts, bullpens, or benches, and charges the playing area in order to fight one another or try to break up a fight. Penalties for leaving the bench can range from nothing to severe.

The FIU–Miami football brawl was a bench-clearing brawl that occurred on October 14, 2006 in a college football game between the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International University Golden Panthers at the Miami Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.

The Muckers

The Muckers are a football hooligan firm linked to the football club Blackpool F.C.. They take their name from the word mucker, a colloquialism meaning good friend.

Behind closed doors (sport) Sporting events played without spectators

The term "behind closed doors" is used in several sports, primarily association football, to describe matches played where spectators are not allowed in the stadium to watch. The reasons for this may include punishment for a team found guilty of a certain act in the past, stadium safety issues, public health concerns, or to prevent potentially dangerous clashes between rival supporters. In football it is predicated by articles 7, 12 and 24 of FIFA's disciplinary code.

The MIGs are a football hooligan "firm" associated with the English football club Luton Town, which was originally formed in the 1980s.

Football hooliganism in Poland first developed as a recognised phenomenon in the 1970s, and has continued since then with numerous recognised hooligan firms and large-scale fights. Until 1997, the number of related incidents rose, according to Przemysław Piotrowski of Jagiellonian University. The problem of hooliganism related to football has been compared to what he described as the dark days of football hooliganism in Eastern Europe in the 1980s. Hooliganism in Poland is comparable in its scale to what notoriously used to happen in England, but no longer does. Many Polish football clubs have hooligan firms associated with them.

Punch-up in Piestany Bench-clearing hockey brawl in 1987

The Punch-up in Piestany was a bench-clearing brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union, during the final game of the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Piešťany, Czechoslovakia, on January 4, 1987. The incident resulted in the ejection of both nations, and while the Soviets had already been eliminated from medal contention, the disqualification cost Canada a medal – potentially the gold. The brawl is famous for officials having turned off the arena lights in a desperate attempt at ending the 20-minute melee. Much of the blame was placed on Norwegian referee Hans Rønning, who had been selected for the game based on his perceived neutrality rather than experience.

Aston Villa Hardcore is a football hooligan firm associated with the Premier League club Aston Villa, based in Birmingham, England.

The Good Friday Massacre , was a second-round playoff match-up during the 1984 Stanley Cup playoffs. The game occurred on Good Friday, April 20, 1984 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, between the Quebec Nordiques and the Montreal Canadiens. It is notable less for its series-ending finish than its epic brawl between the players, which spanned multiple periods and resulted in 11 ejections and 252 penalty minutes. It was the most infamous episode of the Battle of Quebec.

Section B are a hooligan firm of football supporters who follow Airdrieonians F.C., and before the current club's formation in 2002, followed the original Airdrieonians. The group, formed in 1977, have been well known throughout Scottish football for their boisterous, vociferous and often violent behaviour for over 40 years. The group is widely regarded as one of the most violent gangs in Scotland.

2011 Crosstown Shootout brawl

The 2011 Crosstown Shootout brawl, nicknamed The Crosstown Punch-Out, was a bench-clearing brawl that took place at the end of the 2011 edition of the Crosstown Shootout college basketball game between the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and the Xavier University Musketeers. The game took place on December 10, 2011 at Xavier's home arena, the Cintas Center in Norwood.

Football hooliganism in the United Kingdom

Beginning in at least the 1960s, the United Kingdom gained a reputation worldwide for football hooliganism; the phenomenon was often dubbed the British or English Disease. However, since the 1980s and well into the 1990s the UK government has led a widescale crackdown on football related violence. While football hooliganism has been a growing concern in some continental European countries in recent years, British football fans now tend to have a better reputation abroad. Although reports of British football hooliganism still surface, the instances now tend to occur at pre-arranged locations rather than at the matches themselves.

UEFA Euro 2016 riots

The UEFA Euro 2016 football championships in France saw several recorded instances of football hooliganism and related violence between fans, both at the venues where matches took place, and in cities near the participating stadiums. The violence started immediately before the tournament began, and involved clashes between several countries. Some of the rioting came from established gangs and football hooligan organisations, which deliberately intended to provoke violence. They clashed with riot police who controlled the crowds using tear gas and a water cannon.

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Bibliography

Further reading

See also