Violence and aggression really unfold when talking about contact sports that are played all around the world. Examples could include the devastating and demoralizing hits in football, the elbows in basketball and soccer, and the incidental shoving in hockey to gain possession of the puck. There are many different levels and degrees of violence in sports, and as the danger grows which each level, the player’s safe health and welfare is in further peril. According to Mike Smith, a respected Canadian sociologist of sport concludes that there are four categories that identify violence in sports.
The first level of violence is brutal body contact, which includes physical practices common in certain sports like foot ball and soccer that is accepted by all athletes as a part of the sport they compete in. Examples could be like tackles in football and soccer, and body checks in hockey. These hits have major force and sometimes consequences, but this is what these athletes are paid to do and expected to do persistently. The second level of violence is borderline violence, which includes practices that violate the rules of the game but are accepted by most players because they are a part of competitive strategies; this is also known as “mind-playing games.” Examples of this could be the brush back in baseball, the fist fight in hockey, and the little elbow or nudge while playing soccer to get the opponent scared, to instill that level of fear in them. The third level of violence is Quasi-criminal violence, which includes practices that violate the formal rules of the game and can lead to suspensions due to the fact it is against the norm of that sport. Examples of this could include cheap shots, late hits, sucker punches and flagrant fouls that could potentially hurt the athlete. The last level of violence is criminal violence, that includes practices outside the law to the point athletes condemn them without question.
Examples of this could be assaults during a game to be premeditated to severely hurt another player like a hockey player using his stick as a weapon, or baseball pitchers intentionally throwing at batters particularly in the head and neck region. These four reasons are very interesting due to the fact that athletes and analysts break down the fact of violence in sports to explain certain types of situations that may occur. Before I saw violence as one thing, causing harm to a person even if it wasn’t intentional, but these four reasons help people especially sport athletes like me, to understand the severity of certain violence and how some is accepted in the world of sports.
There are factors and characteristics of a crowd at a sport outing that causes violence, animosity, and enmity no matter the sport. There are nine known characteristics that may lead to this level of spectator “hatred” towards each other while watching and experiencing the game:
1. Crowd size and the standing or seating patterns of spectators.
2. Composition of the crowd in terms of age, sex, social class, and racial/ethnic mix.
3. Importance and meaning of the event for spectators.
4. History of the relationship between the teams and among spectators.
5. Crowd-control strategies used at the event (police, attack dogs, surveillance cameras, or other security measures).
6. Alcohol consumption by the spectators.
7. Location of the event (neutral site or home site of one of the opponents).
8. Spectators’ reasons for attending the event and what they want to happen at the event.
9. Importance of the team as a source of identity for spectators (lass identity, ethnic or national identity, regional or local identity, club or gang identity).
Some of these factors are easily thought about for reasons people do fight as spectators, but the other factors included in this list were new to me and helped open up many more doors of knowledge. These give you insight in the thoughts and actions of spectators and why some people do stupid things based on the many influences surrounding them at every sporting event.
After doing some research and reading about violence in sport my perceptions or misconceptions really haven’t changed; the findings actually helped reinforce my ideas and beliefs about this certain topic and set in stone what I think and what analysts and professionals believe in as well. I believed that some violence was allowed and believed to be the “norm” in sports while other violence crossed that invisible line that athletes should never execute. The four parts of violence and how the Canadian sociologist broke it down really did help me to reassure my ideas and beliefs about violence in sport and helped to prove the facts that many people are wondering about. The use of violence as intimidation in non-contact sports can also have a major impact for certain athletes. Examples like in tennis players slamming their racquets, abusing the tennis ball, yelling at the umpires to show a side of violence through words and actions to inculcate fear in their opponents without ever making physical contact with them. Athletes use the words, the thoughts of violence to fuel their drive in a need to be the best at their sport no matter if it is non-contact or contact. They want to be the best and won’t let anything step in their way of that dream and create a hindrance.