Rethinking Aggression and Violence in Sport

By John H. Kerr | Go to book overview

4

The joy of physical contact

Sanctioned aggression and violence in sport

This chapter will concentrate on sanctioned aggressive and violent play as an accepted part of the action in some contemporary sports. Much of the discussion will focus on the motivation and emotions of the athletes involved, the rewards associated with participating in team contact sport and the development of physical aggression and violence as a particular source of pleasure. Most of the published material on aggression and violence in team contact sport has concentrated on male athletes, but recently there is a small but growing interest in female athletes. Some exploration of female athlete responses to aggression and violence is also undertaken in this chapter. In addition to reversal theory, which is used to provide a theoretical explanation for understanding sanctioned aggression and violence in sport, the Hedonic Tone Management Model of Addictions (Brown, 1997) will be used to explain how an athlete's positive reward from physical aggression and violence develops over time and may eventually become addictive.

Some of the few books available that deal with the topic of aggression and violence in sport begin by pointing out the historical context of 'games' and the violence involved in those games, as the forerunner of contemporary sports. Some authors have gone as far back as the Greek and Roman empires (e.g. Auguet, 1994; Guttmann, 1986) and underline the fact that Greek and Roman games were often quite violent affairs. Here, the historical background to aggression and violence in modern sport is mentioned only in passing, but Guttmann's work (1986, 1998) will be returned to in chapter 8.

It should also be mentioned at this early point in the chapter that the discussion in this and the successive two chapters will focus largely on team contact sports, like ice hockey, soccer, and the other varieties of football. In team contact sports the codes of conduct are somewhat less stringent than, for example, in combat sports and therefore offer a better contrast between sanctioned and unsanctioned aggressive and violent acts. Individual combat sports, such as judo, sumo, some forms of karate and other combat sports also involve sanctioned aggression and violence (indeed, in some of these sports, lack of aggression on the part of the contestants is penalised), but the codes of conduct for competitors in these sports are so strict that acts of unsanctioned aggression and violence rarely occur.

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Rethinking Aggression and Violence in Sport
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Figures and Tables x
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • 1 - The State of Play 1
  • 2 - Getting Started with Reversal Theory 19
  • 3 - New Beginnings 38
  • 4 - The Joy of Physical Contact 46
  • 5 - When Things Turn Ugly 66
  • 6 - Taking the Hard Knocks 80
  • 7 - Beyond the Pale 94
  • 8 - Blood and Guts 114
  • 9 - The Final Whistle 134
  • Author Index 152
  • Subject Index 156
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