3 J. Legal Aspects Sport 88 (1993)
Violence in Sport: Criminal Assault or Part of the Game

handle is hein.journals/jlas3 and id is 166 raw text is: Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport, 3(2). 1993, 88-96

Violence In Sport:
Criminal Assault or Part of the Game?
Robert E. Trichka
Central Connecticut State University
New Britian, Connecticut
N INTRODUCTION
The values approved by society often seem to be in conflict with the values held
by athletes. The inconsistency of attitudes of many athletes toward sportsmanship,
aggression, and violence would not be looked upon with favor by a society which
expects high standards of ethical and moral behavior.
Sport is considered to be a microcosm of the society in which it exists and has
been endorsed and maintained for its many values, yet it has not escaped the impact
of aggression and violence. Michener (1976) suggested that there is undue emphasis
on violence throughout sport programs. Edwards and Rackages (1977) stated,
American sport is... structurally and idealogically conducive to the generation of
violence (p.3). Eitzen (1979) suggested that the most popular sports actually
encourage player aggression and excessive violence. In essence, no part of society,
especially sport, is immune to aggression and acts of violence and as Fisher (1973)
stated, . . . few social institutions openly condone and cater to aggressive behavior
as does sport (p. 249).
By definition, sport is a contention of interests; it is direct competition against
another (Slusher, 1967; Vanderzwaag & Sheehan, 1978). One accepted index of
competition is individual physical aggressiveness. Athletes are expected to test the
aggressive boundaries of behavior and are often encouraged and taught to do so. At
times, these boundaries are disregarded, and the result is unacceptable levels of
violence. Eitzen and Sage (1978) stated that .... violence is a derivative of
competition. It is the ultimate way to ensure the survival of the fittest (p. 69).
Woods (1971) stated:
Sport and athletics are used by some individuals to disguise and hide destructive
and hostile intent. Under the guise of the athletic competition, the individual is
freed from the anxiety, guilt, and control which must normally be maintained in
other life circumstances (p. 56).
Aggression and violence in sport have been studied for many years and the
orientation of the people studying sport leads them to assume that human aggression
has a specific source and therefore relates to sport in a particular way. However, the
problem of aggression and violence in sport is more complex to be causally related

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