January 25, 2008

Teen male violence linked to aggressive sports

The sports culture surrounding football and wrestling may be fueling violence among teen male players and also among their male friends, according to a Penn State study released this week.

"Sports such as football, basketball, and baseball provide players with a certain status in society," said Derek Kreager, assistant professor of sociology in the Crime, Law, and Justice program. "But football and wrestling are associated with violent behavior because both sports involve some physical domination of the opponent, which is rewarded by the fans, coaches and other players."

Analyzing data from about 7,000 male students at 120 schools, the researchers found that football players and wrestlers were especially likely to get into serious fights. Perhaps more startingly, just having football-playing friends predicted violence among boys who were not athletes.

The Penn State press release is here.

Hat tip: Kirk Witherspoon