Violence in Sports: Expected in Some, Discouraged in Others

Earlier this season, players Joel Embiid  and Karl-Anthony Towns both received two game suspensions without pay after getting into a fight on the court with each other. The fight was a result of an intense game that NBA officials say is evidence of how seriously NBA players take their sport. It is not difficult to understand that players in this league do are passionate about their profession, but is that an excuse to allow violence to continue to take place in sports? Over-conformity is not only present in more aggressive sports, it takes place in almost every activity only if society agrees so. Examples of the over-conformity in sports is evidently shown in hockey. Although reffing officials are advised to not condone such behaviour it is still tolerated and anticipated by the league and spectators. As seen in the photo below, fighting in hockey is a common occurrence and players participating in the action are rarely punished to the extreme athletes in other sports would endure.

Fight between Calgary Flames player Matthew Tkachuk and Josh Currie from Edmonton Oilers
Source: SERGEI BELSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS

In basketball, such aggressive behavior is rarely seen in contrast to the NHL where such acts of violence is almost guaranteed to happen each game. It is argued that both players are receiving too harsh of a punishment as a result of their actions, but in sociological terms, it is evident that if they continue to allow this behavior to erupt during basic league games, it may progress to violence in basketball, let alone sports in general, into becoming a more common attribute. It is difficult to detect where and why these acts of violence are occurring, but it is stated that “…athlete‐related deviance is not the result of alienation or rejection of mainstream values but the product of “over-conformity” to the goals and norms of sport.” (Sefiha, 2012). If we are aiming to eradicate over conformity in sports it will start with the players and coaches. It is up to them to guide sports onto the right path to ensure that the younger generations are provided with a safe environment to participate in sports. 

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Featured image: Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota Timberwolves altercation during Oct. 30th season game (Source: MITCHELL LEFF / Getty Images )

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