Sports Spectator Violence: Origins, Recognition, and Control


John T. Cheffers, David Wood and Al Meehan, 1978


The problem of violence among spectators attending sporting events was well documented and discussed in this study. The social psychological factors, definitions of key words and aggression, spectator violence and player violence were presented in depth. Of particular interest to the investigators was crowd behavior at a sports event. The introductory review of literature also included extensive presentation of the differences among various sports and their crowd behaviors.

The second half reported results of observations through instruments designed to quantify individual and crowd behavior. IRG I was used to study the mood and behaviors of team officials, and male and female coaches. Little difference existed in the overall patterns between the three managerial groups and most of the behaviors were in the interested, involved, and logically involved categories. Male coaches, though, were slightly more involved and more out of control than female coaches.

Male and female spectator behaviors at diverse sporting events were not as intense as behaviors for team officials. The spectators were capable of a greater range of behaviors and were also more negatively involved in the game. Women registered behaviors in more categories, but these behaviors were positive.

Ratios were presented from IRG observations for four sports: Football, Soccer, Hockey, and Baseball. Ice Hockey with 7.7%, reflected the greatest percentage of hostile acts. 'Football showed the smallest percentage (3.0%) of hostile acts or fighting between players. This in-depth report listed recommendations for spectator control. Measures from Leach (1959) and Turner and Killian (1957) and the authors, Cheffers, Wood, Meeham (1979) were listed.