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Violence in Sport - Essay Sample

Sport, by nature, is a highly charged activity. Violence in sport can be the result of legitimate contact going too far, or athletes seeking to intimidate or injure opponents. On top of violence between athletes, fan violence is also a huge problem. Fan violence can be caused by many factors, including national pride or passion for hometown/ city, competition, and misplaced anger, and is often fueled by alcohol.

In today's media driven world though, sensationalism sells, so violence is often desirable to the entertainment industry. Ratings have shown that when violence increases in sports, fan interest peaks, and both game attendance and TV viewership increase also. Therefore, it seems that our culture, sports in particular, demands violence in some respects, to create excitement, energy and drama. Another aspect of sports is living vicariously through the players, so many would argue that watching two athletes fight could provide a release for audience members and a break from monotony. The audience doesn’t just watch like they’re at a movie, they actively participate: screaming, cheering, taunting, chanting. The game is energetic and passionate.

Teams play one against the other and fans are usually there to support one team over the other. There is rivalry, a battle for power and control, and the desire to dominate. The athletes feel this and the spectators feel this. And in some sports, fights, speed, danger, and spectacular effects are a main component, not just a secondary occurrence. The popularization of extreme sports illustrates that there is a craving for more thrill and risk. Although the media has contributed to the demand for violence in sport, it is not a new invention. Since ancient Rome, with chariot racing and gladiator tournaments, sport has involved elements of danger, and spectators have reacted fervently to violence.

Another factor in the equation is money, advancement, and other benefits of victory. The pressure to succeed can cause athletes to become overly aggressive and violent in the game. Players have to stand out as being strong, being leaders as well as team players, and ultimately being the best. For men, their masculinity is on the line, and for women, their femininity can’t be the focus. Therefore, men often strive to prove and display their manhood in stereotypical ways, and women often seek to prove and display their strength and endurance.

Consequently, violence in sport is not just about physical activity or competition, it’s also about biology and nature. Biologically, we still have natural instincts and desires that date back to our hunter-gatherer days and our times of being warriors. In a way, a sports game is like a small-scale war, with one team declaring battle on the other. The spectators often act as the soldiers, getting just as involved in the game as the athletes playing it. Ending or curbing violence in sport would be a great battle, and it appears that we don’t have a fighting chance. Although harsher penalties and more extreme crowd control efforts might help, they won’t eliminate the desire or the demand for violence in sport.