Understanding sports violence: revisiting foundational explorations

Christopher Matthews, Alex Channon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within this paper, we discuss the importance of attending to definitions of ‘violence’. Through a return to a selection of important foundational works, we attempt to unpack the fundamental meanings of violence in a general sense, and sport violence in particular. With a specific focus on the need for definitional clarity, and particular attention to the ‘ritual’ dimensions of sport violence, we argue that engaging with these concepts is essential when conducting research on ‘violent’ contexts. Based on a critical reading of a small selection of relatively recent scholarship in sports settings, we ultimately argue that without careful consideration of what can constitute ‘violence’, scholars risk misrepresenting the social worlds they investigate. In conclusion, we call for researchers to enter into a dialogue with foundational explorations of violence, and also to attend more closely to the definitions favoured by practitioners who engage with apparent ‘violence’ on a regular basis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-767
Number of pages17
JournalSport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Authors’ Accepted Manuscript of an article published in SPORT IN SOCIETY, 24/05/2016, © Taylor & Francis, available online at:


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