Monday, October 31, 2011

Your Athletic License Please

The earliest known instance of crowd violence at a sporting event took place in 532 BC in ancient Constantinople. Two chariot racing factions, the Blues and the Greens, were involved in riots which lasted for a week. Nearly half the city was burned or destroyed in addition to tens of thousands of deaths. This unruly, destructive, aggressive, bullying, often called "hooliganism" is becoming a more frequent behavior pattern associated with rival sports fans, who also vent ethnic and/or political animosities within these encounters.

War on Sports surmises that when today's extreme fans unleash attacks on rival groups they reveal their incapacity for peaceful resolution of perceived contentious issues. When otherwise "regular Joes" gather together under competitive banners, they can become vulnerable to inflammatory triggers that result in mob-on-mob violence. Carl Jung's term “collective unconscious” somewhat describes this phenomenon. In a flash, hooligan groups associated with sports events become "drunk" with the great power that partisan mob action implies. It is apparent that alcohol induced drunkenness is also a factor contributing to these battles.

A serious result of sports mob violence is that innocent bystanders can be injured or even killed. Hooliganism that begins inside a stadium often spills out onto the streets resulting in riots and looting.

The following video is illustrative of this phenomenon. There are numerous additional occurrences around the world of similar thoughtless brutality. This example happened to occur in Russia, however fans and foes of the Los Angeles Lakers have been known to behave in the same manner. Seemingly no single group of fans anywhere is the sole proprietor of this alarming syndrome.
Perhaps it is time to require licensing of sports fans. No license, no ticket. The procedure for obtaining a license might well include sensitivity training regarding good sportsmanship in general. Further, the dangers associated with participation in exaggerated confrontations between fan groups can be graphically illustrated by selections from a large library of related videos.

There is ample precedent for this type of public policy. For instance, in the United States, smoking in public places is banned because of the health risks and health remediation costs associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Major league commercial sports could very well benefit from governmental regulations focused on curbing fan based negativity.

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