Friday, February 09, 2007

Violence in Sports

Italian soccer has been in the news lately because there were riots at a soccer match in Sicily where a police officer was killed. They cancelled the professional matches in Italy last weekend, and this weekend, they are playing the games, but not letting any fans watch them in the stadiums. European soccer has a reputation for hooliganism and has struggled to limit the violence around matches for decades.

Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, asks why there is so much less violence in American sports than in European soccer, especially since the US has a higher overall rate of violent crime.

He offers the following possible theories:
1. Many soccer matches are more local affairs than U.S. sporting events, thereby attracting a lot of fans for both teams, who are more likely to mix it up than if 95% of the fans are rooting for the same team.
2. We have better security.
3. We drink less; many U.S. stadiums and arenas now cut off the sale of beer, e.g., before the end of the game.
4. Perhaps the audiences at U.S. sporting events don’t include the criminal element — the result, perhaps, of high ticket prices.
5. For years, there has been talk of how American sports, particularly football, are a proxy for war and true violence; maybe this is actually true.
What do you think? Any of these convincing or is there something else? Don't give an answer like "Europeans are just more fanatical about soccer" unless you have an explanation for where that fanaticism comes from.

(Source: Freakonomics Blog)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whereas we in the United States have the beneift to have many professional teams in many different sports ( i.e. football, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc. ),
in many European countries, soccer is the only sport really played. Soccer is THE main sport in most other countries other than the U.S., especially in Europe. With many European leagues offering an average player salary that is almost the same with the average NFL player salary, more money and attention is focused on just one sport, making it the single fanatical focus in which everyone in the country can pour their enthusiasm into. In America, there is not a month that passes without a major professional sport in season. In Europe, the only major sport is soccer, which does not play year round, only heightening the enthusiasm for the game.

-Andreas

Anonymous said...

I believe that European soccer is so much more violent than American soccer because of nationalism. In Europe the countries are farely close, so it allows easy access for fans of both teams to attend the games. Also, the teams aren't just in a league, they represent the entire country and many people take great pride in that aspect. So many fans go to the game and take it very seriously and tension is high. If enough taunting is given, it will most surely result in a fight. Like Andreas said, soccer is the main sport in Europe and it represents everyone's countries. So the game is taken to a much serious level than American soccer because we are all in the same country. Whereas European soccer represents a new country with each team.

-Chris Templin

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