Sports, Games, and Play: Social and Psychological Viewpoints

By Jeffrey H. Goldstein | Go to book overview

10
Violence in Sports

Jeffrey H. Goldstein Temple University University of London


INTRODUCTION

The primary text of this chapter is an overview of theories and research on violence in sports. There is also a subtext that might be called "the social construction of sports violence." However, the latter is not a theme that can be presented explicitly by referring to specific theories or data ( Gergen, 1985; Goldstein, 1986a, 1986b; Mummendey, 1984; Mummendey & Mummendey, 1983; Siann, 1985). The concern is not so much with traditional scientific explanation and methodology as with the implicit assumptions and perspectives that guide both scientific and popular discourse about sport. The focus is on the perceived relationships between violence and sports, that is, the views of sports violence that people hold, their beliefs about the nature of aggression and play, and the individual and social functions served by each of these. This chapter examines the naive psychology of sports violence, those widely-held beliefs about violence in sports.1 These beliefs form the underlying basis for what we say about sports and what sportswriters, athletes, and others present as commentary on sports and sports-related violence. When do we perceive an act as violent? When we do believe that athletes or sports fans have engaged in violence, what do we say to explain this behavior, and what do we not say that implicitly informs our statements?

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1
Although it would be possible using survey research methods to determine precisely what beliefs people hold about sports violence, such research would not be informative about the functions of popular or scientific discourse about sports. It is the latter that forms the basis of a social constructivist analysis.

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