Sport, Violence, and the Media

Authored by: Barrie Gunter

Handbook of Sports and Media

Print publication date:  April  2006
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805851885
eBook ISBN: 9780203873670
Adobe ISBN: 9781135257347


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Violence has been an integral part of much sporting activity. Most sports comprise a form of competition, much of which intrinsically involves conflict. Sports violence can be traced back through the ages to the earliest examples of competitive games (Guttman, 1998). The violence in sport derives not just from the actions of competitors but is also present in behavior of excitable fans and aroused observers in the crowds or audiences for sports contests. Some sports, such as boxing or wrestling, are inherently violent. Others, such as football and hockey, are vigorously contested, and overenthusiastic competitiveness sometimes erupts into aggressive altercations between contestants on the field of play. Some sports, such as soccer, are associated with violent fan subcultures whose identities are defined not just by the teams they support, but also by their reputation for fighting with supporters of rival football clubs. Indeed, for many such football hooligans, their involvement with a violent fan base is tribal-like in nature and may be the only source of personal identity they value in themselves (Dunning, Murphy, & Williams, 1988).

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