Violence is defined as the behaviour of which involves physical force with the intent to hurt or damage someone or something. In the nature of their field, it is inevitable that athletes face injuries, especially those incurred from others. With their heightened physicality, their actions would be coupled with additional force and strength. Furthermore, the design of the games allow for and demand of them to compete at their best. It then follows that the nature of the sports have indeed encouraged violence.
From young, values are cultivated in competitive athletes for them to perform at the highest level in competitions. They learnt perseverance to run the extra distance at full speed, teamwork to share the ball, and also discipline to stick to a strict regime to challenge themselves to the next level. They go through events such as pick up basketball that turn into a bloody mess, tackles on the football field, and jabbed elbow in track meets. Growing up as a committed athlete would have had its thrills but it is not easy or painless at all. They go into sports knowing that the games are dangerous and prone to induce conflict. It is not rare for boxers to deeply injure their opponents or rugby players to knock each other down. There are also fights that happen among fans and spectators, such as the numerous South American melees and car burnings that follow soccer matches. Sports are becoming increasingly violent and have even led to death. For example, in May 2013, a 17-year-old soccer player in Salt Lake City, USA, punched and killed his recreation-league referee over a small miscall during the game.
Professional sports have become much more of a business in the recent years, with ticket costs and merchandise leading to largely increasing revenue and salaries. Unfortunately, this heightens the competitiveness for individual and team success, and thus unsportsmanlike practices are pervasive. In hockey, many teams have a player called an “enforcer,” whose job is to physically punish the opposing team; for example, if any of his teammates are checked by an opponent, the enforcer will retaliate with an equally brutal hit, and he will never shy away from a fight. In american football, there is also something similar where every play features hard hits from players weighing at least a 100kg or more. Over a 3-year period, the NFL New Orleans Saints team players and an assistant coach awarded bounties each time an opposing player was injured, including $1,500 for each player knocked unconscious and $1,000 for each player who had to be carried off on a stretcher. Players who participated in this program earned $50,000 during the team’s 2009 championship season. Upon the release of this story into the news, insiders of the league conceded that many other teams also had bounties.
However, this is not true for all sports. Violence is openly and violently discouraged in some, with measures in place to prevent such acts from happening. In baseball, for example, it was common for pitchers to deliberately throw at opposing batters’ heads, and retaliation was the norm. Today, a pitcher can be warned or ejected, fined, and suspended for doing this, and the managers also face discipline. It has become less frequent, and now batters at all levels and of all ages wear protective helmets at all times. Today, children face more risk of injury from overuse or improperly throwing a ball when pitching, which has vastly increased the need for elbow ligament surgery, than from being hit by a pitch.
Sports are a great way to establish a life-long pattern of exercise. Sports are a also great vehicle for teaching kids collaboration, healthy competition, health, and discipline. However, too often sports teams emphasize or allow for the wrong character traits to develop such as aggressiveness and unhealthy competition. Thus it should be ensured that rules are enforced and everyone behaves in a sportsmanlike way when sports is played. If we do this, we can all have a lifetime benefit and in turn reduce further promotion of the act of violence.