The Causes of Increased Violence among Spectators at Sporting Events


Traditionally, man has been engaged in conflicts and this has not been helped much by evolution and enlightenment that the world has gone through. There have been increased interpersonal conflicts that have further transformed people to form groups against their rivals and enemies. This has led to violence between groups oriented towards opposing parties in political, national and even religious orientations in national and global outlooks. This has further narrowed down to smaller groups such as supporters to opposing sporting teams. This is a cause to worry and this paper will closely look at the reasons that have led to the increase in violence in different sporting activities across the world. In some extreme cases, deaths have been reported which should prompt the concerned authorities to move in quickly and determine the causes of the violence and reduce or eliminate them completely. It is enigmatic to see people who love a certain sport, enjoy a game, and then later see the same people fighting and chasing each other (Bodin, Heas & Robene 2004). When fans go for sporting events, they expect that their team would either win, loose or in the cases where it is applicable, draw. Therefore, there should be no extreme emotions tied to any of these results.

The causes of increased violence among spectators at sporting events

a)      The Nature of the Game/Sport

Contact sports are more likely to experience violence than non-contact sports. Rough play by players might prompt the spectators to grow wild and eventually violent (Wingate 2009). During contact sport events, spectators might at some point feel that their player was roughly tackled by an opposing player. This results to jeers and taunts directed to the referee or the opposing players. There has been a perception that home ground advantage should be exploited. The home team fans shout loud in order to motivate their players. If they started to jeer an opposing player due to an act of violence against their player, the opposing fans would reiterate and try to protect their players. This later escalates if such actions are repeated. Their repeat results to throwing of objects towards each other as well as increased chants and jeers. This results to an eruption of violence with time as the game progresses.

Occasionally, players get into conflicts with fans. Spectators might throw objects to the fans and the player might react by fighting off the spectator. A good example is the episode that occurred in 2005 when a fan threw a cup to an Indiana Pacers player during an NBA match. The player rushed to the fan and confronted him physically and two teammates came to the aide of their colleague. The Indiana Pacers team players were fined and suspended due to their unsporting behavior.

b)      The Nature of the Crowd and Violence Avoidance Mechanisms.

Crowd composition is an important factor that would result to violence. The age, sex and alcohol consumption levels of the fans would determine the chances of violence erupting in a sporting event (Wingate 2009). Further, the crowd composition determines the number of fans opposing each other thus the possibility of violence erupting. If the tickets to watch the event were sold cheaply and allowed many fans from the opposing sides to watch the event, there is increased likelihood that violence would erupt. If one crowd is by far larger than the opposing one, chances of violence are increased. If the crowds are almost equal in number, there is a high likelihood of violence erupting. Youthful, male and drunk spectators who are in most cases attend the events create more chances of erupting violence.

The manner in which the event management team prepares for an event determines the possibility of eruption of violence. If there are no well laid down strategies to deal with it, there is a high probability that there would be an eruption of violence. Poor security personnel, security dogs, camera coverage among others would lead to increased chances of violence erupting.

c)      The Event Context

Most of the teams and clubs in most parts of the world were formed a long time ago. Over the years, rivalries were formed by the first fans and players. These differences were guided along the circumstances of the time such as races, locations, might among others. The rivalry has become a part of the team and the present-day fans have identified themselves with the rivalry. During those times, violence was a part of the loyalty to the team and club. This has become the source of violence in the recent times when supporters want to show their loyalty by repeating the actions of their older counterparts (Bodin, Heas & Robene 2004). In Italy, for instance, there has been great rivalry in soccer which dates back to the 1990s. In 2000, four British fans were hospitalized after violence broke and the Italian fans attacked their English mates. This was then followed by another incident in 2007, where violence erupted and a policeman who tried to stop the violence was stabbed to death. Teams who are traditionally in rivalry have a high chance of sparkling violence especially when they meet in big stages such as finals and major games.       


The increased cases of violence have called for more preparedness of the event managers to increase their methods to cope with violence in case it erupted. Event venues should be well equipped with security cameras in order to determine the people who started the violence. Such people and the teams they support should be banned or heavy fines imposed. This would reduce the violence as well as people’s perception over their opposing teams and crowds.

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