Spectator Violence

By Madison Gilliam

The problem

Sports rage is any type of physical attack on another person or verbal abuse. This can include striking or wounding another attendee or verbally threatening or harassing an attendee (Barth, Heinzmann, Casey-Doecke, Kahan & Al, 2003). Not only does it negatively affect those involved in these acts of violence, but it has an affect on the child playing the sport as well. It sets a bad example for the child regarding how they should act, it can affect their game play, and it can be embarrassing for them as well (Barth, Heinzmann, Casey-Doecke, Kahan & Al, 2003).

What causes parents to become raged?

  • Parents can become emotionally attached to the sport.
  • A substantial amount of money may have been involved.
  • Parents may be lacking the knowledge as to the rules of the game (Kanters, Bocarro & Casper, 2008).
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Diminish the violence

Parental involvement can be considered a liability in regards to youth sports (Barth, Heinzmann, Casey-Doecke, Kahan & Al, 2003). Parents become too involved in the youth sport to the point where it becomes a problem for themselves and those around them. It is important to make parents aware of the damage they are causing as well as how to minimize and prevent them from ever reaching such high levels of rage.

Parental violence can be caused from having high expectations of their child. When parents react with rage or violence, it adds more pressure on the child. It can affect their performance during the game as well (Barth, Heinzmann, Casey-Doecke, Kahan & Al, 2003).

What can be done?

Several people (students, coaches, professors, parents) were asked about the involvement of parents in youth sports, the effects, and how to prevent it. The results showed that seminars or meetings with the parents would be beneficial. The goals would be explaining what the rules and expectations are, how to properly handle situations, how to be supportive of their child, and how to minimize the likelihood of sports rage occurring (Barth, Heinzmann, Casey-Doecke, Kahan & Al, 2003). Studies also indicated, through questionnaires, that fathers are more likely than mothers to expect more and put pressure on the child (Kanters, Bocarro & Casper, 2008). Having volunteers present at the games to help keep things calm could help to lessen the violence among the attendees as well.

Will it work?

Every parent or sports attender cannot be prevented from acting with rage, but it can be minimized and kept under control. Coaches, along with the volunteers that are their to observe, can be given a questionnaire to fill out every few games regarding the affect the seminars or meetings with parents had on lessening violence during youth sports. By doing this, it tracks the improvement and/or changes that are occurring once parents are made aware of what they are doing during the games, how to prevent them, and the affect it has on the child.


Barth, K., Heinzmann, G. S., Casey-Doecke, J., Kahan, D., & al, e. (2003). Is parental involvement a liability in youth sports? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 74(3), 16. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.bakerezproxy.palnet.info/docview/215760026?accountid=8473

Kanters, M. A., Bocarro, J., & Casper, J. (2008). Supported or pressured? an examination of agreement among parent's and children on parent's role in youth sports. Journal of Sport Behavior, 31(1), 64-80. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.bakerezproxy.palnet.info/docview/215879169?accountid=8473