Violence In Sports: What Causes It?

This recent example of violence and sports and poor sportsmanship caused me to think about this issue once again.

Here is another article I wrote on this subject.

How To Really Stop Violence In Sports


Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.



    Violence in many sports has had a strong presence in the


media for quite some time.  Brawls in baseball games


and players and fans acting in disorderly manners in sporting


arenas are quite commonplace today.


     Because I am a psychotherapist who has worked with many


athletes and parents of athletes with anger management issues,


 I would like to outline several strategies for ending the alarming


behaviors we see all too often in and around athletic contests.


         Players, coaches and managers at all levels of competition


 should be required to shake hands at the start and


 end of each contest.


   This  simple gesture  will remind athletes that they are


competing against fellow human beings during the heat of


battle.  Furthermore, this  simple act will promote


sportsmanship and set a good example for young athletes


and their parents.


   Second, leagues should have clear rules outlining punishments


for various offenses in a clear and succinct manner.  This will


help athletes to have an awareness of the consequences of


their actions.


     Similarly, penalties for fans who misbehave should be posted


and announced prior to all sporting events.  Stating these


guidelines clearly will help make athletes and fans accountable


for their actions.


     Some of the violence we see is related to drugs, alcohol


and gambling.  The roles of alcohol abuse, substance abuse


and compulsive gambling and their connections to violent


behavior need to be studied more carefully by psychologists,


psychiatrists, social psychologists and sociologists.


    Many athletes have long histories of being rewarded for being


aggressive.   If one has been rewarded for being aggressive, it is


 sometimes hard to shut down your aggressiveness when you lose


your temper.


       Consequently, there are a number of kinds of trainings


which could help athletes to get a better handle on managing


their thoughts, feelings and actions.  These courses could include


training in meditation, self-hypnosis, conflict resolution,


communication skills, sportsmanship and spirituality.


      Moreover, this kind of training should begin when the


athletes are age six or seven.  It is never to early to teach


the importance of treating others with kindness, respect and




    It has been said many times that the microcosm of sports mirror


the problems the macrocosm of society.  There is a likelihood


that the violence that we find on the news, in video games,


on the roads, in movies, and on televison does have an


impact on our values, behaviors  and attitudes. 


       My own view is that certain people imitate what they see,


while others do not.  Perhaps, in time, we can identify who is at


risk for modeling this behavior and who is not.


           Some athletes remain quite immature emotionally because


they spend so much time and energy developing their physical


skills.  Also, some athletes who get an abundance of special


treatment develop a sense of grandiosity and feel they are above


the law and that laws do not apply to them.  This grandiosity can


contribute to their impulse control.


           It has also been known for some time that people from


violent families with a history of alcohol and substance


abuse are at at greater risk for behaving in a violent manner


than are  people who come from families without these


disorders.  Coaches, parents and league officials need to


be aware of this fact and monitor athletes whom are at risk


and intervene before an incident occurs.


             Similarly, steroid use may be contributing to some


of the violence we see in some sports.   The relationships


between steroid use and violence needs to studied and


monitored very careful, since this form of rage can be very





          Last, parents, educators, coaches, owners, union


representatives, mental health professionals and


law enforcement personnel need to work together to


 to build a more sensitive world in which we value


competition, but also cherish  the importance of


the feelings of our fellow human beings. 


   Some athletes need to be reminded  of the idea that, “Nothing is


 so strong as  gentleness.”


Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ.  He can be reached at or at 201 342-3663.            

Dr. Granat

About Dr. Granat

Since 1978, Dr. Granat has counseled thousands of highly competitive athletes from many different sports. His clients have included golfers, tennis players, bowlers, runners, boxers, baseball players, basketball players, pool players, hockey players, ice skaters, wrestlers, fencers and martial artists. (Satisfied Clients) on this site. Now athletes who are struggling with choking, nervousness, lack of confidence, negative thoughts, self-doubt, lack of energy or concentration problems can get the help they need to excel in their respective sport by phone.
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