Unrestrained violence in sports is an issue of concern especially in modern days where the two seem to go hand in hand. Its impacts are harming both to the players and the society at large. However, use of these violent depictions in the media to promote such sports have been known to work well leading to the notion that 'violence sells'. Though the use of violence in its promotion has been accused of rousing savage passions among its audiences, its advocates argue that such violence is just a depiction of real-life situations in the society and does not influence violence beyond what is actual reality.
Research has concluded that violence in sports is fueled by the sports athletic-commercial complex. A study of increased violence in hockey in Canada revealed that violence was further promoted by League executives who maintained the view that brutality translates to more ticket sales and any subtleness in such a sport would repulse the fans. In American Ice hockey, a marketing tool has been discovered in violent depictions which have been found out to be more effective than 'instructions and bare description of the game' (Grant, 1998).
Where Are Such Depictions Found?
In football and hockey, advertisements especially during the postseason and on the run-up to the super bowl involve the depiction of the game at its peak level of violent aggression. Usually they feature past incidences that involve scuffles and altercations amongst players, crashes, punch throwing and even intense stare downs. During the postseason, the NHL, NFL, NBA and others will run advertisements that feature players crashing into glass, punches traded amongst players and other popular violent instances to create anticipation amongst fans and interested advertisers in the sport.
In MMA, Boxing and Wrestling, instances of excessive use of force and brutality against the laid down restrictions also exist and are continuously used in their promotions. A good example is Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor boxing bout whose promotion run in preparation for the fight was described as a circus. It was filled with explicit insults, altercations, stare downs, and threats to create more publicity for the fight.
Motor racing sports advertisements such as NASCAR and Indie 500 are known to repeatedly feature clips of vehicles overturning, car crashes and such extreme instances in the sport's history to try and arouse desire among the target audience.
Should Violence Play Any Role In The Promotion of Sporting Events?
Sports influence our lives, our culture, and our values. Arguments for and against violence depiction in advertisement spots whether on television or other media have been put forward from both supporters and opponents. It is a known fact that violence does influence sports and its fans in a huge way.
Accused of using violence to boost audiences and viewership, advertisers have countered the claim by advancing that they only depict what is real both in the field and in the society and actually responding to consumer demand. However, that alone does not justify its use. Demand inclinations should not make unneeded violence allowable (Terry, 1985).
Sports has been commercialized and violence is the tool used to sell it off to the point of making it a disposable commodity. Use of violent depictions in promotion yields more brutality among the event performers/players as the event has to be 'as advertised', failure to which they are rendered underwhelming.
Promoters use of violence as a promotion tool impacts the actual event negatively. It creates a vicious cycle where violence among the performers appeals more to consumers, promoters use this knowledge to attract more revenue by 'promising' violence in the events and higher audiences who turn up for a violent show force the players to exhibit the exact advertised features.
Use of violence in the promotion of sports has a negative impact on society. Kids are easily exposed to violence and brutality. They become susceptible to more aggressive thoughts (Iowa State University, 2011) . Such behaviors are copied back into the society which leads to a culture that is in large violent and brutal.
Therefore, the use of violence in advertisements and other forms of sports promotion in the various media platforms should be discouraged. Rather the promotion should focus on the finer details and aspects intrinsic in true sportsmanship instead of focusing and shaping audience expectations towards violence and brutality.
Grant, C. (1998). Myths We Live by. University of Ottawa Press.
Iowa State University. (2011). ISU study finds effects of TV ad violence on kids; researchers see Super Bowl implications. Ames, Iowa. Retrieved from https://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2011/jan/adviolence
Terry, P. C. (1985). The Determinants and Controls of Violence in Sports. Quest, 37, 27-37.
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