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Sports and its effects on the lives of the australian people

References Sport is a basic feature of Australian culture. The achievements of Australian athletes have enhanced our image as a nation.

Participation in sporting activities contributes to the health of millions of Australians; the teamwork and fair play which Australians learn on the playing field provide the basis for a good society. But Australian sport is not without shortcomings. Whilst sporting violence, on the part of both participants and spectators, is less frequent and less severe in Australia than in many overseas locations, it remains grounds for concern.

Violence on the playing field sets a bad example for impressionable young Australians. Unruly crowd behaviour can spoil a pleasant family outing. The Committee recognises that hard contact sport can still be played with integrity, that competition can be both vigorous and fair, and that spectators can be enthusiastic and fun-loving, without being violent. Discussion of these issues can help ensure that Australia remains a sporting society. If Australians are asked to name their heroes and heroines, the people they most admire, the majority of names raised will be those of sportsmen and sportswomen.

Australia's self-image, and international identity, is one of a sporting nation. There are over 9. Allowing for people registered in more than one sport, there are between 6 and 7 million people playing organised sport. In addition, there are coaches, officials, administrators, voluntary workers and social sportsmen and sportswomen.

Violence in sport

The majority of the Australian population is therefore actively involved in sport. When one adds spectators, those who actually attend events and those who watch sport on television, it can be seen that the overall sports following in Australia is enormous. The popularity and influence of sport can be judged by the level of advertising and sponsorship which is attracted to it.

The media is also aware of the importance of sport, as is evident by the space in the printed media and time on the electronic media devoted to sport. The amounts paid by television networks to cover major sporting events are astronomical but these decisions are obviously made in the knowledge that public interest is so high that sponsorship dollars will more than cover the outlays.

Sport touches virtually every household in Australia. It has the capacity to unite families, to cross class barriers and to surpass politics! Similarly, any negative aspects of sport, such as violence, have the potential to affect many people. Concern over violence Violence on the sporting field has occurred throughout history and can be traced back to gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome. In Australia, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, there was a serious outbreak of violence during a cricket match against England as long ago as 1879.

It was reported that 2,000 people invaded the ground, holding up play for 20 minutes, and that a spectator assaulted the English Captain, Lord Harris. In the intervening hundred years or so there have been a number of relatively isolated incidences of violence in Australian sport.

However, over the past few years, events involving sports violence and brutality have received greater prominence. This is partly due to greater media coverage of events and the increasing tendency towards litigation. Fortunately, the level of violence in Australian sport, both involving players on the field, but more particularly spectators, is not comparable with the situation in Europe and South America.

However, there is still cause for concern. The year 1985 was somewhat of a watershed in violence in sport. This was the year of the infamous Heyshel Stadium soccer riot in Brussels, in which 38 spectators were killed and almost 300 injured. This subsequently led to England being barred from European competition and jail sentences for a number of the perpetrators.

It was also a significant year in Australia. In soccer, a National Soccer League match between Sydney Olympic and Sydney City was abandoned after more than 300 irate fans invaded the pitch when the referee ordered a player from the field. The referee, linesmen, players and officials were attacked and dozens of people were injured. In rugby league, during a nationally televised Test Match between Australia and New Zealand, two players who had been dismissed from the field continued to fight on the side lines.

Although no reports were made at the time, the Victorian Football League VFL Commissioners subsequently investigated the incident in sports and its effects on the lives of the australian people Bruns received facial damage. They found Matthews to be responsible and deregistered him for four weeks. This resulted in much debate over the role of the police in sporting incidents.

Hard data on the extent of sporting violence is not available, but the sporting associations consider that there has not been an increase in violence over recent years. However, since 1985 there have been a number of occurrences which are worth noting. In 1986, 96 cricket spectators were arrested at the Adelaide Oval. In 1988, two policemen were bashed at a VFL match. Later in the same year, following a brawl in the Whyalla Football League grand final, a South Australian Magistrate convicted two players for assault.

One received a 1 month suspended jail sentence and a 12 months good behaviour bond, while the other was given a 6 months good behaviour bond. In 1989 there were further developments which could have widespread repercussions for sport. Overseas there was the Hillsborough tragedy in Sheffield, England, where 94 people died and over 200 were injured.

Ironically this was not caused by violent behaviour but by a crush which was at least partly caused by "hoodlum barriers", or cages designed to inhibit violence by spectators. This has focussed attention on the need to review crowd control and safety standards for Australian sporting facilities to ensure that the Sheffield disaster is not repeated here.

In Australia in 1989 there were a number of important developments. A jury found a New South Wales country first grade rugby league player guilty of assault after he made a head high tackle on a player without the ball: The player's solicitor commented that a major implication of the jury's verdict was that all sports would now become susceptible to the criminal law.

On one March weekend in Sydney, five spectators were assaulted during a seven-a-side rugby league tournament at Parramatta Stadium on the Saturday, while on the Sunday, four rugby league officials were attacked at an Under 15 match at Cabramatta in the Western Suburbs.

Following the race, Johnston was suspended by stewards on a careless riding charge. However, Frazer sued Johnston alleging that he received a severe back injury, a fractured left thigh, other injuries and shock. The judgment stated that "recklessness" is not a requirement for civil liability between competitors, and that a competitor could be held liable for an injury "caused by an error of judgment that a reasonable competitor, being a reasonable man of the sporting world, could not have made".

This decision, although it is almost certain to be appealed, could have enormous implications for sport. Because of a perceived trend towards increasing violence associated with sporting events overseas, together with a series of highly publicised incidents in Australia, some of which have been mentioned above, the Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council SRMC agreed in 1985 that excessively violent behaviour in sport was unacceptable and that strategies should be developed to reduce it.

Sports and its effects on the lives of the australian people Ministers considered that strategies should be directed at reducing violence both on and off the playing field. The strategies will be addressed later. Following the aforementioned rugby league incidents in Sydney in March 1989, the New South Wales Minister for Sport called a top level conference to address the problem.

This "summit" of leading sporting officials agreed to use the New South Wales Government's newly introduced laws against violence and riots on unruly spectators. The Minister announced a number of initiatives, including: Clearly, violence in sport is still an important issue, with many facets: Causes and issues Some sports are violent by nature.

Boxing is the obvious example, where physical attack is the point of the exercise. There has been much debate over the sport with many calling for its abolition. Other sports, such as wrestling and the martial arts, also involve one-on-one unarmed combat. These forms of "violence" are within the rules of the sport and the possibility of injury is well known by participants. Then there is a range of contact sports, particularly the football codes, where there is punishing body contact within the rules but also the scope for borderline or unintentional "violence" such as late tackles, high tackles and tackles on players without the ball.

These tactics can be, and are also, used intentionally. However, the use of video replays over recent years has made these tactics more risky for the perpetrators, especially in professional sports where suspension can lead to a significant loss of income. South Australian academic Wray Vamplew 1987, p. There is a range of societal, economic, and cultural factors which come into play, particularly with regard to spectator violence.

  • Perhaps this could apply when a team repeatedly offends, but sports followers would generally not like to see a situation where the finals contenders are decided by a tribunal;
  • In high-scoring sports such as basketball and Australian Football, an individual referee's decision to award or disallow a score is not seen to be as crucial as in a low-scoring game like soccer;
  • South Australian academic Wray Vamplew 1987, p;
  • Turning now to off-field violence, this problem could be a greater danger than on-field violence;
  • If Australians are asked to name their heroes and heroines, the people they most admire, the majority of names raised will be those of sportsmen and sportswomen.

It has been noted that problems in English soccer are often associated with poor living conditions. The problem clubs appear to come from the worst areas in England, for example, Millwall is a docks area with extremely high unemployment, and Millwall fans are probably rated as the worst in England.

Furthermore, Leicester University researchers once examined the addresses of 428 locals arrested at Leicester soccer grounds, and they discovered that one in five came from a particular council estate in which the unemployment rate was 36 per cent and the manual labour rate was 85 per cent Main 1985, p.

There are many who would suggest that there has been a rise in soccer violence corresponding with the rise in unemployment under the Thatcher government. Young people with no sense of identity or purpose and no realistic hope of worthwhile employment turn to violence as an outlet for their frustrations.

If this theory has veracity, it is a warning against complacency in Australia.

If economic conditions worsen in this country we could find ourselves with our own version of "the English disease" - clearly the general societal problems cannot be addressed by sport alone. Studies of English soccer violence have also identified a hard core of people who see fighting as an integral part of going to a match, who are led by proven fighters, frequently with local gang connections and a record of violence outside the sporting context see Riches 1986.

These people are sometimes associated with extreme racist and right wing groups, but fortunately, this aspect does not appear to have surfaced in Australia. Other broad social divisions based on religion, culture and race also influence the world of sport. The Scottish local derby between Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers is the oft-quoted example of religious differences spilling over onto the terraces.

This carry over of international enmity into Australian soccer not only leads to violent incidents, but also holds back the sport of soccer.

The game does not command a large following apart from international matches: It is a moot point as to whether this is because of the sport's image or the actual product, and in all probability it is a mixture of both. There are also a number of sports-related issues which affect the level of sports violence. The nature of the sport itself is obviously an important factor. Tempers are more likely to fray in a fierce body contact sport, and this can affect spectators as well as the participants.

The approach taken by the coach is also important.

In highly professional sports, victory can mean significant monetary gains. A loss for the players could lead to being dropped to second grade with a consequential drop in match payments; a string of losses could mean a sacking for the coach. So there is often more at stake than a mere match result. It is now generally accepted that violent acts on the sporting field, rather than providing a catharsis for spectators, often work as a catalyst for violent behaviour. The scoring level of games can also affect the level of violence displayed on and off the field.

In high-scoring sports such as basketball and Australian Football, an individual referee's decision to award or disallow a score is not seen to be as crucial as in a low-scoring game like soccer.