Spectator Violence in Sporting Events
The problem of spectator violence occurs when fans gather for a sporting event or during entertainment events. Spectator violence tends to violate the rules and norms of the competition or sporting event and in effect threatening the lives of the participants and or spectators and can lead to property destruction (Smith, 1986). Spectator violence can also be defined as the misbehavior that occurs in a sporting event, does not follow the rules of the sport, causes harm to individuals and property and does not generally relate to the aims and objectives of a given competitive sport (Terry et al, 1985).
Spectator violence can be traced back to the times of Roman Empire and the Greek. During these times, supporters of different chariot racing teams frequently got involved in riots. An example of the major riot that took place was the Nika riot of 532 BC. This riot took place in Constantinople and it was caused by the rivalry that existed between the Blue chariot racing team and the Green chariot racing team. In this riot, it is documented that around 30, 000 deaths took place (Jayson, 2004).
In recent times the incidences of spectator violence have increased especially when it comes to soccer matches. Soccer stadiums are therefore the major venues for these incidences. This is probably due to the rivalry that exists between football clubs from different regions or countries. This rivalry has been transferred to the fans and therefore the birth of the term “football hooliganism” which basically describes the destructive and unruly behavior exhibited by supporters of different football teams and which usually occurs before, during or at the end of a match.
Other sports events or competitions that spectator violence may occur include American football, boxing, hockey, basketball, and baseball (Lewis, 2007). The problem of Spectator violence is more prominent among European Countries as compared to North America. In the European countries, this problem is increasing at an alarming rate. Therefore there is need to understand the cause of this problem as it has become a real threat. This is with regard to the fact that in the past few years there have been various tragedies that have been reported regarding sport spectator violence.
Thus there is need to understand this problem psychologically and sociologically. Spectator violence is exhibited in various forms. It may be in the form of gesturing, verbal obscenities, missile throwing, swarming, and destruction of property and physical fights (Brindley, 1982). Gesturing involves signaling to the opposing team with obscene signs and/or with threatening gestures. Missile throwing comprise of throwing “missiles” that include bottles, broken seats, foods and bricks either randomly or in a particular direction.
Swarming involves trying to gain forceful entry into the field or into an opposing teams changing room. Verbal violence involves yelling, singing or chanting obscenities or taunts, physical violence involves fist fights, spitting, stabbings shoving, and shootings. Property destruction entails breaking of chairs, knocking down the sound systems and/or tearing up the field (Lee & Martin, 1985). Causes of spectator violence There are various causes of Spectator violence.
The levels of the violence witnessed depend on the type of the sporting event and the level of competitiveness. There are many theories which have been brought forward to describe spectator violence. But it has been shown that this problem is associated not with the nature of the sport but with a social group. For example, during the Roman Empire there was a sport called Roman Gladiatorial combats. This sport is documented as the most violent in all sports history. But the spectators of this sport rarely rioted.
In recent times, rugby is more violent than soccer (football). But it has been seen that football hooliganism has become a worldwide problem while spectator violence associated with rugby has been very minimal even though rugby is the rougher of the two sports (Coakley, 1981). There have also been identified two forms of sports violence and aggression. These are instrumental aggression and reactive aggression. The former is task oriented and non-emotional while the latter is emotional and with an underlying component whose main purpose is harm.
This reactive aggression is the cause of violence and it is more prevalent in sports involving teams like football, rugby, basketball and hockey (Leonard, 1988). Theories of spectator violence Though there are many theories that have tried to explain the problem of spectator violence, very few of them have substantial supporting evidence. Semyonov & Farbstei (1989) have tried to explain some of the causes of spectator violence. They have come to the conclusion that many sports team are deemed as a community symbol from whichever community they come from and therefore are a central symbol for that particular community.
The team also acts as a source of identification and pride for the community. This therefore leads to the development of a strong identification bond between the spectator and the team. This identification with a certain team and the association with it will therefore lead to the spectators’ assumptions and feeling that any competition between teams that he or she is associated with is a competition between different communities as well. The difference in the communities does not necessarily have to be ethnic, but may also be people of different economic, Religious, social or political class.
Semyonov & Farbstei have given a case study of Israeli soccer where by they found a correlation between the types of community that each team represents and spectator violence (P. 54). Spectator violence is also influenced by the players, the coach and the cheerleaders. This can be seen from the way most spectators emulate their favorite players. Therefore if this player tends to be violent, there is a likely possibility that the spectators will be violent as well.
The development of group solidarity between the spectators, the coach and the players lead to the development of the view that the opposing team is an enemy and this can lead to hostility towards the opposing teams’ spectators (Lee, et al, 1985). The media can also be said to be a cause of spectator violence. This is because it exposes sports related violence in the magazines, newspapers and in the television and this acts as an example to young children who grow up imitating such behavior (Young, 1988).Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org