Violence in Sports

How To Reduce Violence on the Field

Where Does Violence Come From? Why Does it Happen?

Aggression is considered a behavior projected at another individual with intent to inflict harm or when an individual has reasonable expectation that their action will cause harm (Cox, 2012). There are many theories that take a stab at explaining why aggression and violence is present in sports. One of these theories is known as the Reformulated Frustration- Aggression Theory. This theory suggests that as frustration builds, so does the chance for aggressive behavior. So what can be done?

Violence is not Always Aggression

It is important to clarify that not all violence is classified as aggression. Many games get heated and a lot can ride on the outcome causing some tempers to flare. Kicking over a garbage can or throwing something that inadvertently hits or injures someone, is not aggression but still considered violence and is unacceptable. Making athletes and coaches aware of the issue and by giving some examples of coping strategies as well as other suggestions, violence on the field or court should subside.

What Can Be Done To Decrease the Violence?

1- Coaches need to make themselves clear that being assertive is not the same as showing aggressive or violent behavior. Yes it is important to establish oneself and let their presence be known on the court or field but it is unacceptable to hurt another individual. Negative behavior should be punished. Allowing it to happen on the field or court is only teaching another child or individual to act in this manner. This leads to another theory known as the Social Learning Theory. This theory suggests that the circular effect occurs and one act of aggression leads to yet another (Cox, 2012). It is important to stop the cycle.

2- However, if the Reformulated Frustration-Aggression Theory has any truth it would be wise to pay attention to the players before during and after a game. Taking a player out of the game before their frustration peaks or not letting them play because of obvious building frustration could prevent an incident of violence or aggression.

3- It is also important to consider situational factors. For example high temperatures have been linked to aggressive pitching from Major League Pitchers (Cox, 2012). When the weather is hot, some individuals may be more apt to show such behavior regardless of the sport. Studies have shown a positive relationship between the number of assaults and temperature (Bushman, Wang,& Anderson, 2005). Low temperatures show no correlation with aggression or assaults while high temperatures show a strong relationship with aggression and assault (Bushman, Wang, & Anderson, 2005). This type of situation could be avoided by canceling games when temperatures are too hot or adjusting the temperature at inside venues.

Another situational factor to be aware of is the score. When the difference in scores increase so does the aggression, the losing team tends to be more aggressive (Cox, 2012). This also applies to the ranking of a team. The lower the team is ranked or in lower league standing, the more likely the team members are to play aggressively (Cox, 2012).

Most Importantly

Perhaps the most important thing for coaches and players to know about violence on the field or court is that it is not tolerated. Whatever measures need to be taken to end the violence and aggressive behavior should and will be done. Anger management or classes that teach coping strategies for stress will likely be more effective than a fine that has no lasting affect. Violence is not acceptable behavior in every day life situations and it should not be tolerated on the field either. Perhaps some tips used for children in sports could also work for teenagers and adults. For one, managing expectations of ones performance and teaching a better way to react to mistakes (Christie, 2013). Also separating the individuals self-worth with their sports performance (Christie, 2013). The bottom line is that players need coping skills to deal with frustration and anger.

With a no tolerance rule in effect for violence and aggression as well as a mandatory training for coping skills, there should be a measurable decrease in the number of violent or aggressive behavior.


Bushman,B., Wang,M., & Anderson,C.(2005). Is the curve relating temperature to aggression linear or curvilinear? A response to Bell (2005) and Cohn and Rotten (2005). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 89(1):74-77. retrieved from

Christie,J.(2013). Teaching Kids To Cope On The Ball Field. retrieved from

Cox,R.(2012). Sport Psychology Concepts and Applications. (7th ed.). New York, NY. McGraw Hill Companies.
Big image

picture retrieved from