Violence in Sports
Violence has always been a part of sports. While it may have started as an unintentional portion of sports, it has increasingly become prevalent and intentional. Most often, violence has been associated with the contact sports such as boxing, rugby, football, and ice hockey. However, violence has also crept into the sports that are generally not known for contact. Mass media feeds off of the violence in sports because it draws bigger audiences. Mass media portrays that violence is a normal part of the sporting world and should be accepted.
Mass media thrives on the jaw rattling tackles in the National Football League and the bone crushing checks into the glass in the National Hockey League. When such a hit is made, it tends to be played over and over. Likewise, it will most likely make the highlights later on that night on ESPN’s Sportscenter. The repetition of these violent acts reinforces to boys and men watching the programming that the male body is a weapon in sports. This violence can also be portrayed as masculine. Violence, to a degree, is a natural part of these contact sports. However, the mass media portrays it in a way that glorifies the violence instead of the actual athletic ability and skill of the players.
The mass media also reinforces violence in other sports. Images of John McEnroe are famous throughout the sports world. His violent acts of throwing tennis rackets in anger and yelling were often highlighted. In baseball, it is common to see a batter charge the mound to swing at a pitcher. The manager and other coaches often are ejected from the games for yelling at the umpires and creating other disturbances. In 2004, there was a brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indian Pacers of the National Basketball Association, during which one of the players proceeded to jump into the stands and throw punches at fans. While these acts are not necessarily always glorified by the media, they are definitely used to draw more attention and ratings. These sorts of acts are often viewed in a joking matter and taken very lightly. Mass media uses the violent acts to its advantage and fails to show the true danger in them.
These acts of violence are not merely watched and forgotten. Young susceptible children watch these sporting events and highlights shows. Children see these violent acts occurring in sports being deemed acceptable, and they believe it is okay to act in a violent manner as well. Children are not old enough to discern the rights and wrongs with violence in sports. They act based on what they have seen and learned. By portraying violence in a comical or non-serious manner, it leads children to believe that it is okay to do this.
This sports related violence should not be tolerated. Mass media is teaching children that it is okay to act out and be violent while playing sports simply because it generates more revenue for the media to show these violent, “masculine” acts. Violence in sports is an extremely important issue. Violence is extremely dangerous because not only can it destroy the integrity of a game, but it can also lead to very serious injuries.
It is not to say that all violence is horrific in sports though. To a degree, certain more violent aspects are a perfectly acceptable part of a game. Sometimes it is necessary for a pitcher to intentionally hit a batter to send a message to the other team, or sometimes in basketball a hard foul is committed to make a player think before taking a certain shot again. The difference with this violence is that it is not meant to do any bodily harm. It is simply part of sports that is used to send a clear message. It is not dirty or unethical. The problem with violence in sports is when it is done in a way which causes injury to the players or fans. That is entirely unacceptable. To a certain extent, violence can be used, but it must be within reason.