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NCJ Number
Peace Review Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: (Autumn 1992) Pages: 28-31
M A Messner
Date Published
4 pages
Violence in the world of sports has broader social implications, especially with respect to socially learned behavior that legitimizes masculine power over women and encourages physical aggression.
In such sports as boxing, football, and ice hockey, the use of violence against others to achieve a goal is learned behavior. Recent studies indicate that the combination of violent, adult athletic role models and rewards from coaches, peers, and the community for player willingness to use violence creates a context in which violence becomes normative behavior. Legal aggression in sports can result in serious injury, and there is a sort of contextual morality in violent sports collisions. Top athletes are likely to suffer from a high incidence of disability, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, and heart problems when they retire. Some former athletes rationalize their injuries as part of the game; they claim that the pain contributed to character development and ultimately gained them the respect of others. Clearly, heavy personal costs are paid by those who participate in violent organized sports, particularly minority males who disproportionately enter athletic careers. Further, the physical development of strength by males influences men's power over women and the social distribution of violence and contributes a culturally dominant (white, upper/middle class) masculinity.


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