Violence in Sports Research Paper

Pages: 9 (2533 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sports

Violence in College and Professional Sports

The pressure to win is so strong in college and professional sports than many players will do whatever it takes to succeed. Often, these methods are simply out and out malice. In addition, athletes are not always protected by the law, due to state and federal statutes. Cases from college and professional sports will be referenced to show this. Fights and brawls are completely inappropriate to the sports arena; violent behavior is criminal and should not be part of the game. Sport law, in its efforts to reinforce the fair play of sport contests, must continue to examine violence in sports in order to keep players safe and preserve the entertainment value of the games.

Sport violence can be defined as "the use of physical force or coercion within or outside of the playing venue either directly or indirectly the result of frustration over an event associated with the playing environment. This definition includes conflicts that may occur between players..."

Sport violence can also include altercations between the fans and the players, or amongst the fans themselves, but for the purposes of this paper, we will focus on the players.

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In both college and professional sports, the players are expected to abide by a code of conduct. The code of conduct is designed to protect the players, as well as keep the game safe and enjoyable for everyone. For instance, football players are not allowed to strike on the head, face or neck with the heel, side of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow or clasped hands. Such a violation can result in a 15 yard penalty, if not disqualification.

The National Hockey League, or NHL, added a rule for the 2010-2011 season which banned illegal checks to the head. This is defined as "A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted. "

TOPIC: Research Paper on Violence in Sports Assignment

This violation is punishable by suspending the player from the game, levying a fine of $200, and (if the action is deemed deliberate) eliminating the player from the game entirely. Linebackers and goalies can potentially injure themselves simply by playing the game; the rules are set in place to keep the damage to a minimum and to avoid distracting patrons.

College sports have their share of issues regarding sports violence. In the case of Avila vs. Citrus Community College District, "one of the home team's batters is hit by a pitch. In the next half-inning, the home team's pitcher allegedly retaliates with an inside pitch and hits a visiting batter in the head. The visiting batter is injured, he sues, and the courts must umpire the dispute."

The Rio Hondo Roadrunners pitcher inadvertently hit a batter from the Citrus Community College Owls with a pitch. Allegedly, when Jose Avila, the visiting batter from Rio Hondo Community College, came up to bat, he was hit with a retaliatory pitch by the Owls pitcher. The pitch was thrown hard enough to crack his practice helmet. Avila staggered, had trouble with his balance, and was in a great deal of pain. Nevertheless, when he complained to his coach, he was told to travel all the way to second base. An Owls player noted his distress and notified the Rio Hondo team, at which point Avila was finally removed from the game.

Avila's lawsuit charged, among other things, that the school was negligent in protecting him, as well as not providing care for his injuries, failing to train and supervise its managers, trainers and other staff to tend to medical needs, and that the preseason game in and of itself was illegal, which also endangered Avila.

When the California Supreme court handed down its decision, they noted that Government Code 831.7 protected public entities from liability for injuries sustained during recreational activities. However, it did not apply in this case. The court did subsequently note that the college district was not remiss in providing care for Avila.

In 1998, Kenneth Kavanagh, a player for the Manhattan College team, attempted to break up a scuffle between a fellow team member and an opposing player from Boston University. The player, Levar Folk, promptly punched Kavanagh in the nose. Folk was ejected from the game as well as the next game, and Kavanagh was treated for a broken nose.

In his lawsuit, Kavanagh stated that since Folk was an agent of Boston University, the university was vicariously liable for his actions. He also stated that the university failed to protect Kavanaugh from potentially forseeable assault and battery. According to him, his status as a student athlete created a "special relationship" between himself and the opposing university, which obligated it to protect him. Lastly, Kavanaugh stated that the Coach Wolff of Boston University encouraged his players to indulge in unsportsmanlike conduct during the game. He claimed that the coach's enthusiastic style of coaching pushed players like Folk from playing assertively into playing violently.

The university countered by stating that student athletes' representation of their schools, while "demonstrating the school's capability to field competent and sportsmanlike teams," does not make them vicariously liable for their players' actions. As far as the "special relationship," the university noted that since Kavanaugh was not one of their players, he had no relationship whatsoever with the university. If anything, Manhattan College would have had an obligation to Kavanaugh, not Boston University. There was also no evidence that Coach Wolff encouraged his players to violate the rules of the game.

The Suffolk County Court agreed with Boston College and added, "neither the university nor its coach had any reason to foresee that Folk would engage in violent behavior. He had never done so before, he had no history suggestive of potential violence on or off the basketball court, and nothing in his conduct during the earlier part of the game provided any warning signal that Folk was on the verge of a violent outburst. Neither the university nor its coach had any duty to protect Kavanagh from a harm that they could not have reasonably foreseen." Also, the court agreed that there was nothing to support Kavanaugh's theory that the coach promoted violence or rule breaking as he encouraged players.

In many games, hockey for example, retaliatory actions are often taken by other team members (enforcers in hockey) for a specific reason. Ross Bernstein notes in his book, The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in The NHL, "The players...see every little act of disrespect, every little insult, every subtle cheap shot, every excessive celebration after a goal, and every bit of obstruction...they see it all, and when the time is right, they will react to each act with varying degrees and is the theory that retribution, and the threat of retribution, prevents further dirty play down the road."

When an unscrupulous player is considering doing something inappropriate, even if it is something as slight as teasing an opponent, the expectation of retaliation may make him or her think twice about that action. As a result, participants are forced to play fairly.

In the examples noted above, the players in question were retaliating for something that was done either to them or to one of their fellow players. Hockey uses "enforcers" to be sure their stars don't get injured; other sports have to rely on the player themselves to retaliate, or on their team members. Many fights in sports areas literally clear the team's benches; this is because many teams feel that if an opposing team member attacks one person, they are attacking the team itself. In addition, the honor of not only the player, but the team is being challenged. The members must uphold their honor, thus they will engage in a fight that they may not have started, or defend a teammate they may not even like.

Bernstein also notes that "One incidence of sport violence reverberates throughout a much wider system of sport delivery, but it also affects community and society." Indeed, brawls tend to take away from the purpose of the game, which is to entertain patrons via a sport they enjoy. Those who attend games can form negative opinions of the sport; hockey has a reputation of being one of the most violent in the world. When people think of it, they rarely think of star players such as Wayne Gretsky; they think of the fights that have become a hallmark.

Parents also have a problem when they bring their children to games that turn into fights. The reason many enroll their children in after school sports is to teach them about sportsmanlike behavior and fair play, lessons that will be valuable throughout their lives. Unfortunately, when professional players start to behave in inappropriate and unprofessional manners, parents are put in the difficult position of having to explain the difference. Bernstein points out that "parents need to reinforce the fact that fights are rare and for a reason. There are ways to spin… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Violence in Sports" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Violence in Sports.  (2011, July 19).  Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Violence in Sports."  19 July 2011.  Web.  28 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Violence in Sports."  July 19, 2011.  Accessed September 28, 2021.