Aggression in Sports
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Aggression in Sports. What is the Role of Aggression in Sports?. Intimidation? Getting an edge? Part of the game / part of competition? At what point does it become “too aggressive?”. Definitions. AGGRESSION: a forceful action or procedure, especially when intended to dominate or master

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What is the Role of Aggression in Sports?

  • Intimidation?

  • Getting an edge?

  • Part of the game / part of competition?

  • At what point does it become “too aggressive?”


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Definitions

AGGRESSION:

a forceful action or procedure, especially when intended to dominate or master

Etymology: from aggredi -- “to attack”

Must be aimed at another human being with the goal of inflicting physical or psychological harm





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Hostile aggression, instrumental aggression or sport assertiveness...

How to determine...

It is clear that it depends on the intent of the action...


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Why are athletes aggressive? assertiveness...Theories of Aggression


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Instinct Theory assertiveness...

  • Aggression viewed as an inborn drive

    • Freudian theory

    • Ethological viewpoint: Animals, including humans, are innately aggressive

      • Konrad Lorenz (1966) -- “The main function of sports lies in the cathartic discharge of aggressive urge.”

    • Catharsis -- sports seen as a socially acceptable way to discharge aggression


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Is athletic participation “cathartic?” assertiveness...

Does hitting someone hard release “pent-up” aggressive urges?

  • Research generally does NOT support the catharsis theory

    • aggression increases over the course of a game

    • watching violence is not cathartic (e.g., t.v. violence)

    • aggression begets aggression


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Frustration-Aggression Theory assertiveness...

  • Aggression viewed as a response to frustration

    • A variation of the catharsis theory

    • Frustration can lead to a variety of responses (e.g., aggression, increased effort, quitting)

    • Anger + Stress physiology (positive feedback loop)


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Social Learning Theory assertiveness...

  • Aggression viewed as a learned behavior

    • Modeling in sports (e.g., young athletes watching aggressive play)

    • Strong learning occurs when aggressive play is seen as successful and portrayed as justifiable

    • Aggressive play is reinforced (receiving praise from coaches, parents, peers)


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Sport-Specific factors assertiveness...

  • Aggression influenced by:

    • Reciprocity (we respond to being “attacked”)

    • Rivalries (“territorial?”) and “Protection” of teammates

    • Drug use (e.g., steroids, alcohol)

    • Sports equipment as “weapon” (e.g., hockey stick, helmets)

    • Athletic environment (e.g., a crowded, noisy, hot gym; obnoxious fans)

      • Study of hit batters and temperature


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Sport-Specific factors assertiveness...

  • Aggression influenced by:

    • Taunting

    • Nature of the game (contact)

    • Inconsistent officiating (leading to frustration)

    • Media effects

      • Does the sports media glorify / exaggerate violence?

      • What do fans want to see? (e.g., ESPN highlights)


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Reducing Excessive Aggression and Violence assertiveness...

  • Punishments for overly aggressive/violent play must have greater punitive value

  • Emphasize fair play code-of-conduct

  • Athletes/coaches should agree on what is ok and what is not -- heavy penalties should be imposed when inappropriate behavior occurs

  • Media must place in proper perspective the isolated incidents of aggression rather than making them highlights


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Reducing Aggression and Violence in Sports assertiveness...

  • Coaches and referees should be encouraged to attend in-service workshops for dealing with aggression/violence on the part of players

  • Reduce (ban?) use of alcoholic beverages at sporting events