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Fan Violence: Who's to Blame?

Uploaded by flash on Jun 12, 2001

“These people want to hurt you. It’s frightening. You feel like you’re in a cage out there”. Reggie Smith, (Berger, 1990). Spectator violence at sporting events has been recorded throughout history. People who have power over the events, often team owners, indirectly influence the amount of spectator violence by encouraging the factors contributing to violence, in order to benefit themselves. Sale of alcohol, encouraging crowd intensity, creating rivalries, and targeting social groups, are factors affecting the degree of spectator violence and can be proven to be influenced by the owner’s actions. Therefore the blame for spectator violence can be attributed to whoever has power over the sport.

Many historians suggest that an increase in spectator violence coincides with the commercialization of sports. Anthropologists agree that in societies where games were not for profit, they were enjoyed as celebrations of physical skill without competitiveness or violence between players or spectators (Berger, 1990). However, when people gained power or financially from the sporting events, spectator violence increased (Berger, 1990). Public spectacles and games were part of the Roman Empire. Each emperor had an amphitheater and the size of the crowd reflected the emperor’s wealth or power. The emperor through crowd excitement could influence spectator violence to such an extent that gladiators could be killed or freed depending on the crowd’s effect on the emperor (Robinson, 1998). The emperor encouraged the Roman working class, “to forget their own suffering, by seeing others suffer,” while the senators, and emperor would benefit financially from gambling profits (Robinson, 1998).

With the commercialization of sports, owners’ profits increased with alcohol sales. Beer drinking has been an integral part of sports since the late 1870’s. Chris van der Alie noticed that his saloon did well when St. Louis Brown Stockings were in town. As a result, he decided to sell beer at the games. On February 12, 1880, Alie signed a contract with the Browns allowing him to sell alcohol on their property (Johnson, 1988). During a game on July 6, 1881, the first alcohol related brawl broke out in the crowd, injuring twenty spectators and killing two (Johnson, 1998). The signed contract with the Browns’ was a financial bonus for the owner, however permitting alcohol to be sold, might have indirectly contributed to the injuries and deaths. Alcohol sales contribute financial support to teams. “Without beer companies as sponsors, the teams would have trouble making ends meet.” Bob Whitsitt,...

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Uploaded by:   flash

Date:   06/12/2001

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   11 pages (2,376 words)

Views:   2128

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