Violence at Sporting Events

There are a lot of positive things that come out of sport. Self-discipline, teamwork, loyalty, dedication and learning to be a good winner/loser are all valuable lessons we can learn.

Unfortunately, there’s a less glamorous side to sport, with a growing trend of violent incidents both on and off field. And it’s not just a problem in Australia – sport-related violence is quickly becoming a common worldwide phenomenon.

Many fans are extremely passionate about their team. Insult their favourite player and it’s like you’re insulting their mother. Add to this the adrenaline, excitement and tension during a sporting event, and you’ve got a very volatile situation. Oh, and let’s not forget the growing use of alcohol in our sporting culture.

But surely, as civilised human beings, we can do better than to resort to violence?

Besides the obvious physical consequences for both the victims and perpetrators involved, this kind of violence also sets a very bad example to the young (and impressionable) kids who attend these same sporting events.

But it’s not just fans that can’t keep their hands to themselves. There have been numerous cases of professional sportsmen being involved in on-field violence. And when their idols and heroes behave in this way, children are prone to get the wrong messages about sportsmanship and team spirit.

Of course, like in most other instances of violence, alcohol plays a significant role in sport-related assaults. In March this year, a violent brawl broke out between 40 spectators at an under 15’s ruby match in Queensland. These were mums and dads fighting it out with other parents – what a way to set an example for their kids…  Police investigated the role that alcohol had to play in the incident, which left many people wondering why alcohol was being served at all at an under 15’s match. Some sports psychologists blamed the parents for being too heavily invested in their children’s sporting achievements. This is debatable, but alcohol clearly also played a part.

This shocking brawl led to a call for a ban on alcohol at sporting events. Of course, not everyone agrees with this, and some argue that this would be another example of “the nanny state” that many Australians don’t want to see.

The way to tackle violence at sporting events could well involve tougher legislation on alcohol, similar to that which was introduced in the UK during the 1980’s and 90’s in order to combat the blight of lager fuelled football hooliganism on the nation’s favourite sport. This has been successful, but the law arguably needs to be tougher all-round to address violence on the field, as well as the spectator violence taking part during and after sporting events.