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Deviance and Violence in Competitive Sports

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Abstract

The following article seeks to explore how deviance and violence have impacted sports. Deviation is any behavior, belief or condition that goes the social norms. We have got three main types of deviance namely: relative, positive and negative. In sports we have got social deviance among athletes that might be on the field like: cheating, violence, biting others, bribing and using performance enhancers’ drug. Deviance that occurs off the field for athletes are like: felony charges and alcoholism. Violence on the other hand might occur among the athletes or among the spectators. To deal with violence between players, team managers or coaches may take a range of actions: Ensuring that match officials and their decisions are supported when dealing with violent behavior of players, Upholding players with a good disciplinary record as role models, punishing players after match, and being able to use video assistant referee for evidence after a match. It is important for coaches and team captains to set a good example to the athletes in order to promote good behavior in sports.

Deviance and Violence in Sports

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Deviance is any behavior, belief, or condition that goes against the social norms in society. It has sub categories; positive deviance, relative deviance and negative deviance (D Ekholm et al. – European Journal for Sport and Society, pp40-44, 2017). Positive deviance is behavior outside the norm but has no intention to break the rules it is like training hard for a game and breaking your arm in the event, this will ultimately hinder you from normal activities. Relative deviance is the behavior that is not acceptable by the larger society but is accepted by sub culture like use of fists in rugby in a scrum. Negative deviance is behavior that goes against the norms of society and has got adverse effect on individual like using performance enhancing drugs, cheating within a competition, illegal betting and many more others. Violence is use of physical force to hurt someone it occurs between players and among spectators (LC Anderson, AA Raney – Communication & Sport, pp8-10, 2018). The causes for violence in sports are: frustration, aggressions, identity loss etc. To deal with violence between players, team managers or coaches may take a range of actions: Ensuring that match officials and their decisions are supported when dealing with violent behavior of players, Upholding players with a good disciplinary record as role models, punishing players after match, and being able to use video assistant referee for evidence after a match. Below is a list of main points of deviance and violence that has been established:

  1. Cheating, fighting and bribing are less common today than in the past.
  2. Athletes do interpret rules in a loose way, creating informal rules thus violating the norm.
  3. Athletes accept no limits in the pursuit of possibilities.
  4. Sports do not turn athletes into models of virtue.

Cheating and fighting in sports have become a thing of the past. With the advancement of technology in the world, there has been emergence of video recording camera that can capture each and every moment. The Video Assistant referee (V.A.R.). Whenever there are unclear issues in the game. Video recorded by the device can be retrieved and replayed (M Armenteros, AJ Benítez, R Flores, Science in Sport, 2018). Coaches can also use the video to check out on the conduct of their players and also improve how they play in the future. Moving on, the athlete is the most scrutinized individual in terms of sports deviance. This holds especially true as they are seen as role models. With this constant pressure to perform well and the agenizing lifestyle of constantly being in the spotlight, many athletes find themselves doing anything it takes to win; after all, this is what the fans who identify with their sport/team expect. Athletes do interpret rules in a loose way after realizing the status they hold in society making them think that they are above the law, “once the deviant behavior is learned, it can then be socialized to future ballplayers that may eventually become managers and sport organization personnel.” (Vermillion et al, 2009, pg. 32).

Different sports have different moral and ethics code. The relativity between deviancy and violence in sports and their impact on players is complicated. Thus sports ethic taken to extremes can result to deviance and violence in sports and can be detrimental to the players and spectators as well.

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