This essay focuses on the relationship between competitive sports and violence both in and out of the sports fields. Major literature findings suggest that competitive sports such as boxing, hockey, MMA, and American Football, stimulate violence mainly among white male athletes and spectators and discriminate against minority groups (females, black athletes) in the sports fields. Such violence is not limited to aggression among athletes, fans, and spectators in the fields and courts but also exercises penetrating and far-reaching influence through televised sports events and pop culture and media representation on individuals’(especially males’) construction of self-image and social interaction modes. In particular, violence serves as a catalyst that encourages male aggression, such as male athletes’ high crime rates in domestic abuse. Besides, sports reflect power oppression of the dominating white male group on different gender, racial and social class groups. Sports serve as a filter that consolidates narrow and stereotyped social norms on gender roles of males being physically and thus socially superior to females. Sports also enhance racial hierarchy when black athletes receive relatively less or negative media coverage. Televised sports also widen social class division by promoting ableism and thus the admiration of powerful and successful athletes lead the public to tolerate violence in athletes and discriminate against the socially disadvantaged and the disabled.
The goal of sociology in analyzing any popular cultural trend is to investigate the underlying social norms and implications and demonstrate how the world and all the individuals’ values and interaction modes are shaped and constructed through exposure to the social event. One such example that poses penetrating and long-lasting social influence across all societies worldwide is televised sports. This essay aims to center on the popular and universal social norms behind competitive sports and associate them with various forms of violence. The essay synthesizes three sociology papers and four sports videos in Module 1 to demonstrate how various sports are associated with the common theme of violence and how violence penetrates different societies in the formation of ideologies regarding gender, race, and social class. As the sociologist Jay Coakley (2003) proposed, the current sociological studies on sports aim to understand “the meaning of “ideology” and how ideologies related to gender, race, social class, and ability are connected with sports” (2). My thesis is to display how violence in sports has become culturally, socially, and even legally accepted. Such widely accepted violence not only stimulates aggression among athletes, fans, and spectators in the fields and courts but also exercises penetrating and far-reaching influence through televised sports events and pop culture and media representation on individuals’(especially males’) construction of self-image and social interaction modes. In particular, violence serves as a catalyst that encourages male aggression, but also a social filter that excludes specific social groups, consolidates narrow and stereotyped social norms on gender roles and racial hierarchy, and widens social class divisions.
"Social Implications of Violence in Sports,"
Silicon Valley Sociological Review: Vol. 21, Article 9.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/svsr/vol21/iss1/9