“It's Only Sport”—The Symbolic Neutralization of “Violence”

Christopher Matthews, Alex Channon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Within the commodified world of professional ice hockey, athletes sell their bodily performances in return for a salary. A central feature of this transaction is the very real risk of physical injury – a risk inherent within most contact sports, but particularly so within those that feature seemingly ‘violent’ confrontations between competitors, as ice hockey is widely reputed to do. Yet within the spectacle of sport, where physicality can be constructed as playful and unserious, it is possible for the consequences of such action to be concealed behind a symbolic, ludic veneer. Within this paper we explore this process with a particular focus on ice hockey spectators, for whom notions of sport violence as in some important way ‘mimetic’ of the ‘real’ enabled their propensity to both enjoy, and find moral validation through, potentially deleterious behaviours among athletes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)557-576
    Number of pages20
    JournalSymbolic Interaction
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2016

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Matthews, C. R. and Channon, A. (2016), “It's Only Sport”—The Symbolic Neutralization of “Violence”. Symbolic Interaction, which has been published in final form at . http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/symb.265 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving


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