VIOLENCE IN SPORTS & SPORTS INJURIES
India is a unity in diversity, it is a home to a huge mixed population which is fond of several
interests like that of sports as well. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is responsible
for the funding which is headed by a cabinet minister and managed by the National Sports
Federations. Sports law is that field of law which is used in this profession of sports, physical
education and its related areas.
Meaning of Violence
Violence is nothing but the use of physical force, especially physical force utilized with
malice and/or the attempt to harm someone. Some courts have ruled that in labour disputes,
violence includes picketing with false information on the placards, in an attempt to harm a
Violence is defined as harm-inducing behaviour bearing no direct relationship to the
competitive goals of sport, and relates, therefore, to incidents of uncontrolled aggression
outside the rules of sport, rather than highly competitive behaviour within the rule
boundaries. As a framework for discussion, three general approaches to the phenomenon of
aggression are presented. The first views aggression as an instinctive drive, the second
considers it a drive stimulated by frustration, while the third asserts that aggression is a
learned social behaviour. 2
Violence in Sports
Violence is such a thing that can take place almost anywhere and anytime and with anyone, it
is a wrongful activity that takes place.
Violence in sports mainly referrers to violent and often unnecessarily harmful intentional
physical acts that are committed or done during the sport or game, or used for motivational
aspects in the game or sport. The acts of violence can include intentional attempts that can
injure or harm a player or the coach by another player or coach. It may also include threats of
physical harm or physical harm sustained by players or coaches by fans or those involved in
the spectating of sports, or threats and acts of violence which may be performed or done by
fans or spectators upon opposing fans or other spectators.
Violence at Sports and ancient times
Sports injury violence has been known with sports since the gladiatorial games in ancient
Rome and the times when they engaged in combative rituals. Violence played an important
part of these activities. Spectators would gather in the coliseum which was filled with blood
from brutal gladiatorial matches. In the later centuries, society was unable to find ways to
remove or eradicate unnecessary violence from these sports which was eventually enjoyed.
Some of the recent decades have seen the evolution of civil lawsuits between sports
participants and tortious actions. The success of civil lawsuits which is limited, it shows an
encouraging view that the society wants to hold these sports players accountable or liable for
the actions. 3
Many ancient sports (e.g., the ancient Olympic Games)
The ancient Olympic Games were usually for am short duration of about one day , until the
684 BC and later extended to three days and later for five days in the 5th century . Many
different games such as blood sports, bull fighting, running, long jump, shot put, javelin,
boxing, pankration and equestrian events.4
A blood sport is defined as any sport that involves the killing or shedding of blood of an
animal, more like sacrificing for sport. These kinds of sports have existed for a very long-
time and been a part of human society. These blood sports are like modern day sports which
include dog fights, cock fighting, bullfighting, etc and the social acceptance of these sports
Bull fighting is a special sport which is a part of Spanish culture of Spain and Mexico and is
seen and played in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador but is banned in various
countries. It is said to be practiced in Portugal where it is not seen as a real sport as true sport
because the bulls are not killed especially during the game. People have different views about
this but is also an endless debate as some people go behind its ethics and cultural reasons.
These fights usually end up killing the animal and in dog fighting or cock fights, one or both
the animal dies.
Bull fighting, is a “cross between a baseball game, a Roman circus, and a sell-out concert by
some X Factor idol” and varies from dog and cock fighting in various ways. It is a big
business practiced in public in many western countries, while dog and cock fighting exist
mostly underground. Some tour companies and chambers of commerce advertise bull fights
as among the attractions in the countries where bull fights take place. Unlike dog and cock
fighting, bull fighting has been romanticized and seen in western culture.
The base of this event is a single or multiple bulls that are fought by humans inside
a bullring. It can also called as a blood sport. It is practised within the boundaries and is
considered a highly ritualized cultural event and art form which some see as deeply tied
to Hispanic culture and identity. It is practised even today and includes professsionals called
Toreros who execute different moves that have a meaning or atleast names. The senior who
kills the bull is called Matador. A unique breed of cattle is used for bullfighting and these
bulls are bred in large ranches, in conditions as similar as possible to the way they would
behave in the wild. Some Critics claim often that bullfighting is financed with public money.
Causes of violence in sports
This is uncontrolled behaviour that causes physical injury. If it occurred on the streets rather
than the sports field, it would be a crime.7
Some examples of player violence in sport:
• boxing – in the WBA Heavyweight championship fight, Mike Tyson was disqualified for
biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear
• rugby – in the 2015 World Cup, Argentina’s Mariano Galarza was banned for eye gouging
• football – Francesco Totti assaulted Mario Balotelli with a career-threatening kick in 2010
Reasons for player violence include:
• the importance of the result (money, position in league or competition, team rivalry)
• the nature of the game (contact sports are more likely to lead to violence, for example ice
hockey versus bowls)
• provocation (crowd chanting abuse, 'sledging' by other players)
• disappointment or frustration (at own performance, the result or the officials' decisions)
• dehumanised view of the opposition (caused by protective helmets and clothing which
turns opponents into objects rather than people to be respected)
• equipment (sports such as hockey and baseball use equipment that may be subconsciously
viewed as 'weapons')
• crowd behaviour (aggression, abuse)
• emotional intensity (the 'cauldron' effect of the venue, media hype, over-intense 'psyching
up' of players)
There are some causes on the violence of sports. There are mainly two theories that mention
the cause of such violence in sports, they are as follows8:
1) The first theory says that, we human beings have a very strong instinct for violence,
this violence developed during a particular period of time when the human ancestors
had to move or resort to violence and harsh situations in order to reproduce and bad
2) The second theory says that the sociological aspects of violence in sports, stating that
sports are like “Mock Battles” which might become actual battles because of their
Violence in sports can be categorized into four9:
1) Brutal Body Contact
This is the type wherein physical contact is deemed within the parameters of the game being
played and adhering to the rules of the sport or the game. For example, it would be a hard
check in hockey or a tackle in the game of football.
8 Ramon Spaaij, ‘Sports and Violence’ (Routledge Handbook of Sociology of Sport, 2015)
75/Spaaij+2015+Sport+and+violence.pdf accessed on 2nd June 2019.
9 ‘Violence in Sports’< http://www.lifeopedia.com/violence-in-sports/> accessed on 2nd June 2019.
2) Borderline Violence
This is a physical act that violates the games rules and causes bodily injurt to the player but it
is generally accepted by the participants and spectators. For example, elbowing an opponent
while jostling for rebounding position in the game of basketball.
3) Quasi-Criminal Violence
This is type of act which misuses and violates the rules of the game or sports and the criminal
laws too. For example, punching someone in the head while playing a soccer game.
4) Criminal Violence
This is an extreme act done which causes severe physical harm and injury or even death at
times, it always results in criminal charges. For example, a fight that takes place during a
baseball game that results in a player going into coma.
Violence by Athletes10
Many civilized sports have become less tolerant since the civilization process and have
become less violent of bloodshed than before, yet some aspects of violence in sports still
remain to exist. Athletes have to also sometimes resort to violence, this is done in order to
win which is done by injuring or harming their opponents. These things or strategies may also
be pre-planned by the coach or player or both.
For example, in the game of boxing, there is a lot of unruly and violent behaviour that is very
harsh which is portrayed by one of the contestants and this often results in the fighter
breaking the rules which are being penalized and this may lead to reduction of points in the
game, and such a thing when happens in extreme cases, results in disqualification. Some
outlawed tactics that also take place in the game are hitting the opponent on the back of his
head, under the bellu during clinching, and to the back. Some other tactics that are outlawed
or not allowed are, hitting the opponent extremely hard to the floor.
Theories for violence in sports:11
There are three theories which explain the violence in sports. These theories are as follows:
1) Biological Theory
2) Psychological Theory
3) Socio Learning Theory
This theory says that violence is a behaviour which is basically fundamental and inherent
kind of behaviour. On The basis of this theory it is that the sports have been perceived to be
socially suitable way through which humans can discharge violence that has been built in
them. This theory articulates that sports is an acceptable way for athletes to release steam or
aggression that has been built built up. This theory also urges the need for people to
participate in sports as it helps them vent out their anger or aggression. But, as it regards to
violence in sports, this theory is of the opinion that it is innate feelings of aggression in
people that prompts them to engage in violence behaviours and hence the violence in sports is
one of the ways that human beings use to release the vent up anger within them.
This psychological theory says that violence is caused by dissatisfaction or feeling of
incompleteness. It says that violence basically stems from the effect done of the situation and
due to that, frustration is generated when the person is stopped or preventing from achieving
a certain goal. In sports mainly, it is said that a mere frustration can lead to anything from
dubious calls made by the sports officials, not being able to make a certain play, injuries that
interfere with best performances and not being able to play well , or jeering by the players or
The act of violence in sports is basically attributed to the socialization process that has been
undertaken on athletes and their perception of anger or aggression. This means that, the
occurrence of violence in sports is dependent on the emotions that have been formed in the
minds of the athletes especially by their coaches. For example, a coach only targets on
winning and nothing less, due to this, frustration may grow when the players are unable to
achieve this aim and thus leads to the the occurrence of violence. This is the reason, the
psychological state formed in the minds of the players is fundamental to the prevention or
occurrence of violence in sports.
Social learning theory14
The Social learning theory on the other hand suggests that violent behaviour results from
learning. According to the theory, persons learn new behaviours through modelling and also
12 ‘Theories for violence in Sports’ (UK Essays) https://www.ukessays.com/essays/psychology/theories-that-
explain-violence-in-sports-psychology-essay.php accessed on 2nd June 2019.
through modelling by the use of punishments and rewards. In sports, the young players
perceive their sports heroes as role models and as a result, they imitate their behaviours.
At the same time, coaches, team mates, and parents may also be taken to be role models and
may depict support for violent playing styles. Therefore, violence in sports can occur due to
young sports persons imitating the behaviours of their role models which may suggest
aggression. one of the main social influences in sports are those which include coaches.
Coaches engrave the values and skills of sports that are withheld by youngsters and that is the
reason why they tend to imitate these values and skills.
Therefore, within any given social environment, the actions which are portrayed are mostly
motivated by others and the social circumstances which are present. Coming to leadership
and role models, the behaviours that they hold up are the behaviours that will be imitated by
those that they lead. Therefore, children will imitate the values or the virtues as they are
executed by coaches. In the case where violence is done by coaches, the possibility of
violence in sports is then improved or enhanced.
Preventing Violence in Sports
There are a number of ways by which violence in sports can be prevented. Coaches and
physical educators are that group of people who are in the top most position to decrease or
destroy the violence in sports by helping positive thoughts being developed in sports.
1) Putting sports in viewpoint
coaches should avoid pressurising the players about winning and rather avoid that
winning is the only task. It has been proved that, some coaches pressurise their players
only to make them win the game, rather than motivate them learn. Coaches are expected
to enhance skill development and not substitute or remove he performance of a player
with that player’s worth. The same way, coaches must not push or allow injured players
to play, by doing so, it leads to violence in sports encouraged by the coaches.
2) Provision of positive role models
Violence in sports happens in professional sports. To decrease the occurance of violence,
coaches must not be symbolically known with professional teams, by using their names or
logos. Besides this, coaches must not use coaching techniques that are being used by
other professional coaches. Instead, it is paramount that coaches use strategies of coaches
which may encourage the team work and ownership of the team by the players. Coaches
must motivate their players to give in to the success of the team by letting them to
participate in making decisions and listening to their feedback about the team. When
players develop a feeling of ownership of the team, togetherness is fostered hence
facilitating for better performance.
3) Integration of values that encourage intervention into sports curriculum:
The strategies which encourage moral development will produce enhanced or enhanced
behaviours towards sportsmanship. Coaches and teachers must teach positive values
relating to sports so that when players are in the field, they will show positive attributes.
The same attitudes may be encouraged among spectators.
For example, Coaches can focus on the need of team work or good relations between the
players. The coach can create an environment where relations are improved by the
involvement of the larger community and especially parents. When parents form relationships
with other parents and other children in the team, they will learn to support the team and not
an individual child. Due to this, there will be stronger teams that work together and this will
stop the possibilities of violence arising between the players in a team and their fans or
Coaches and teachers can use their behaviours as a way to how spectators and players must
behave. Focusing on the fact that coaches are known as role models for the young players,
their behaviour in the profession contributes abundantly for moulding of the fans’ and
For example, a coach who vents his frustration by yelling or throwing clipboards due to
wrong moves made the players stimulates similar behaviour on the side-lines and can cause
violence by the fans or players. In relation to this, coaches who show respect and control their
attitudes and frustration set a stage where fans can follow suite.
Involvement of Parents:
Parents influence their children greatly and thus they can greatly influence the behaviour that
the child develops towards sports. Coaches and physical educators must make sure to
involve parents by educating them about the activities and objectives of the activities and
how to be aware on aggressive behavior. In return, parents must be informed on how they
must try to motivate their children to have positive attitudes towards the game.
This is basically initiating the use of fan penalties, violence in sports can be decreased as the
measure provides surety that the behaviours of the fans are kept constantly in check. Just as
referees in normal plays use yellow cards as a warning sign to the players for extreme fouls
e.g. use of bad language or ferocious tackles, the fans can as well be assigned a yellow card if
the fans are unruly and when the unruly behaviour continues, the fans must be provided with
a red card and be automatically prevented from watching the game .
Injury in Sports
In modern competitive sports, the athletes are under immense pressure to go back to the
world of competition as early as possible, which is often a demand for the sportsperson and
the team management. These athletes also are at a greater risk of losing their place in their
team because of the high competition and this is also a reason why they return back early due
The growing popularity if certain sports like those such as hockey, football, kabaddi leagues
in India are an evidence that our sports culture is growing as India has been favouring cricket
for a long time. These are the types of sports that are fast paced, played over a short time
period and often pose a high fatigue and injury risk to involved athletes.
An injury is nothing but a very common part while playing or practising any sport, it may
eventually affect the player or sportsperson, Sports injuries are mainly caused by:
2) Direct impact
3) Application of Force that is greater than the body part can stand structurally withstand
There are mainly two kinds of sports injuries15:
15 Tan Chyn Hong, ‘Telling them apart: Acute and Chronic Sports injuries’ (11th April 2017)
sports-injuries accessed on 1st June 2019.
An injury that takes place suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by an awkward landing,
is known as an acute injury.16
Whereas, Chronic injuries are caused due to repeated over usage of muscle joints or groups.
Poor techniques and structural abnormalities can also be a cause of chronic injuries, Medical
investigations are a highly recommended when it comes to sports injuries because the hurt or
injury may be far worse than expected, usually. For example, an ankle sprain may not just be
a sprain but rather may be a bone fracture.17
Types of sports injuries:
• Ankle sprain – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
• Bruises – a blow can cause small bleeds into the skin.
• Concussion – mild reversible brain injury from a blow to the head, which may
be associated with loss of consciousness. Symptoms include headache,
dizziness and short-term memory loss.
• Cuts and abrasions – are usually caused by falls. The knees and hands are
• Dehydration – losing too much fluid can lead to heat exhaustion and heat
• Dental damage – a blow to the jaw can crack, break or dislodge teeth.
• Groin strain – symptoms include pain and swelling.
• Hamstring strain – symptoms include pain, swelling and bruising.
• Knee joint injuries – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. The
ligaments, tendons or cartilage can be affected.
• Nose injuries – either blood nose or broken nose, are caused by a direct blow.
• Stress fractures – particularly in the lower limbs. The impact of repeated
jumping or running on hard surfaces can eventually stress and crack bone.
Law of Tort And Sports Litigation18
“Tort means a civil wrong which is not exclusively breach of contract or breach of trust.”19
It is derived from the Latin word, tortum which means ‘to twist’. It means and mentions
those things that are not straight or lawful but twisted or unlawful. Law of tort is a branch
which deals with wrongful acts done and the wrongdoers violates some legal rights vested in
another person. This law imposes a duty to respect the rights vested in members of society
and person making the breach of that duty is said to have done the wrongful act.20
“It is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common law action which is for unliquidated
damages and which is not only the breach of contract or the breach of trust or other merely
equitable obligations”. “It is an infringement of a right in rem of a private individual giving a
right of compensation at the suit of the injured party”.21
The essentials of tort are:
1) There must be some act or omission on the part of the defendant,
2) The act or omission should result in legal damage (injuria) i.e., violation of a legal
right vested in the plaintiff and
3) The wrongful act must give a rise to legal remedy in the form of an action for
Violence and Aggression in Sports
Violence is an unfortunate and unpleasant aspect of many sporting contests. It is a
challenging task to unravel the complex reasons that underly the phenomenon. As of yet this
task has not been accomplished fully. This paper will assess the relative importance of a
number of factors that contribute to sports violence, and will suggest remedies to the
problem. A wide variety of psychological, social, situational, and moral forces are examined.
The paper suggests that a powerful socialization process is the primary determinant of sports
violence but that other factors also play a significant -- - mediating role. A conceptual model
of the aggression process is presented, which suggests ways to curb violent behavior. It is
concluded that socialization forces, particularly reinforcement, are the most readily
manipulated in order to control violence in sport.
Issues that amount to Violence
1) Labour Issues22
accessed on 2nd June 2019.
Players and owners must negotiate, which is mandatory as the problems relating to the time
periods such as hours, wages and various working conditions. The agents or selected persons
entrusted to conduct such business on the player’s behalf must be working as per entrusted
rules and regulations which provide the best interests of the game.
2) Drug Use23
The problem of performance which is promoting drugs is a huge issue that needs immediate
attention. Drug testing, list of banned drugs, penalties, privacy problems and right to appeal
must be clearly stated by the nodal agency concerned.
3) Tort Law24
Tort Laws were once not a part of sports laws, due to continues wrongful or tort pointing to a
criminal act of assault needs to be penalized. In the same way, right to publicity has to deal
with the defamation of a person’s reputation.
4) Laws on Accountability
There is a regular need to check corruption and safeguard the accountability in monetary
issues of the government authorities and other agencies involved in managing sports. Tenure
caps and age restrictions of such office bearers of federations are left long pending.
The issue of the problem and its nuances make it clear to understand that sports law will no
longer be an applied law or an amalgamation of laws under some jurisdiction, but a law in its
own right. Entry 33 mentioned in the Seventh Schedule of our Constitution has mentioned a
law relating States and the Centre to make and enact laws on regulation, registration and
recognition of associations involved in sports. Rules and regulations like statutory orders act
only as secondary legislations supplementing laws. The law makers should provide and
disseminate the idea and information on various issues related to sports and encourage the
exchange of a variety of perspectives through conferences before embarking on the mission.
1) There must be a firm made sports laws especially for the injuries of the players while
playing in in the game where competition is involved, which is the case always.
23 Daniel N Nelson, ‘Sports, Violence, Drugs’ https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sports-violence-
drugs_b_5869588 accessed on 3rd June 2019.
24 Vagisha, ‘Law of Tort and Sports Litigation’ http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/746/Law-of-Tort-
And-Sports-Litigation.html accessed on 1st June 2019.
2) There must be certain provisions or laws of putting the liabilities of injuries done to
students while participating in the physical education activity.
3) If injuries happen to take place on play fields of school while taking part in sports
and physical education activities, the full rehabilitation expenses must be paid by
schools and educational institutions.
4) The sports laws must be prepared by the Indian Government and it must be included
in the legislation.
5) Legal liabilities must be fixed by the Government of India for sports injuries.