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Aggression and Violent Behavior 7 (2002) 453 475

Fan violence Social problem or moral panic?

Russell E. Ward Jr.*
Department of Psychology and Sociology, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC 29501-0547, USA Received 25 June 2001; received in revised form 5 October 2001; accepted 29 October 2001

Abstract The author reviews the theoretical and empirical resources available for social scientists who study fan violence. Reviews of fan violence typically discuss the phenomenon from psychological, psychosocial, and sociological approaches. In this review, the author uses social problem and moral panic approaches to organize theories of and research into fan violence. The social problem approach focuses on what causes the problem of fan violence. The moral panic approach focuses on how fan violence becomes translated into a social problem. Moral panics are rapid and righteous appeals from the media and other agents of control that something must be done to extinguish a social menace. It is argued that both the social problem and moral panic approaches signify the importance of wegroup versus they-group antagonisms in the creation and maintenance of fan violence. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
Keywords: Fan violence; Spectator violence; Sports violence; Hooliganism; Moral panic; Social problem

1. Introduction Sports fan violence probably receives more attention from the media than it does from scientific research. A recent headline from a national newspaper read Displays of disaffection by fans alarm baseball (Beaton, 2001). As described in the article, fans of the Minnesota Twins threw coins, hot dogs, plastic beer bottles, and golf balls at a New York

* Tel.: +39-843-661-4632; fax: +39-843-661-1628. E-mail address: rward@fmarion.edu (R.E. Ward Jr.). 1359-1789/02/$ see front matter. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. PII: S 1 3 5 9 - 1 7 8 9 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 0 7 5 - 1


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Yankee player. Major league baseballs head of security remarked on the displeasure shown by fans, and said Ive been in this business for some 15 years, been to World Series and big games, and I cant recall it being this bad (p. 1c). A few days after the game, Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota issued the New York Yankees a letter of apology. Despite the periodic accounts of fan violence, the phenomenon rarely occurs, particularly in North America. Fans who attend athletic events appear boisterous and animated, but seldom engage in physical confrontation with others. In countries with a more notable history of fan violence (e.g., Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium), fan violence occurs in about 10% of soccer matches (Marsh, Fox, Carnibella, McCann, & Marsh, 1996). Past reports of fan violence appear more sinister than modern accounts. The first written report describes a chariot race in Constantinople in 532 B.C. (Yarson & Taylor, 1992). Fans seized the stadium and intervention by Roman soldiers was required to stop the riot. By the time fans were quieted, an estimated 30,000 people were dead. Fan behavior at the turn of the 20th century was more violent than today. Nash and Zullo (as cited in Coakley, 2001) describe an incident in a baseball game in 1900:
Thousands of gunslinging Chicago Cubs fans turned a Fourth of July doubleheader into a shootout at the OK Corral, endangering the lives of players and fellow spectators. Bullets sang, darted, and whizzed over players heads as the rambunctious fans fired round after round whenever the Cubs scored against the gun-shy Philadelphia Phillies. The visiting team was so intimidated it lost both games . . . at Chicagos West Side Grounds (p. 193).

Modern media coverage and scientific research of fan violence range from understanding the phenomenon as a notable social problem (Williams, Dunning, & Murphy, 1986), or moral crisis (Petrovic, 1990) to a moral panic. From the social problem approach, fan violence threatens the well being of society. From the moral panic approach, zealous and intense media treatment of the phenomenon exaggerates and amplifies the problem (Moorhouse, 1991; Murphy, Dunning, & Williams, 1988; Weis, 1986; Young, 1986). This paper attempts to make a modest contribution by organizing theories and research of fan violence into two lines of inquirysocial problem and moral panic approaches. The social problem approach advances explanations of why fan violence occurs, and how rational actions should be taken to control it. The moral panic approach examines the public discourse on fan violence. In particular, this approach examines how the media and other social control agents present fan violence in a dramatic, stereotypical, and canned style, which stimulates emotional reactions rather than rational thinking. The moral panic approach draws on labeling theory to show how applying the label of social problem to fan violence amplifies the problem. This paper begins by clarifying some of the concepts commonly used in the study of fan violence. Social scientists and the media use concepts such as sports, fans, and violence to describe a very broad range of events, people, and behavior. Second, the scope of fan violence across cultures is discussed. In this section, arguments for why the phenomenon appears less often in North America than other regions of the world are introduced, the stages of fan violence are outlined, and the forms of fan violence are described. In Sections 3 and 4, the social problem and moral panic approaches to the phenomenon are reviewed. The paper

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concludes with ideas for integrating social problem and moral panic approaches to further the study of fan violence.

2. Definitions Key words in this review include sports, fans, and violence. These three terms are commonly used, but the conceptual boundaries for them are very broad. Fan violence research is plagued by their inconsistent application by scholars (Coakley, 2001). First, sports involve dynamics of organization, competition, and physical skill. Organized football, soccer, basketball, baseball, wrestling, and boxing are appropriate for this discussion. Activities that are pursued only for recreational purposes (e.g., a weekend of biking or skiing with friends or family), or prefabricated displays for audience entertainment (e.g., American professional wrestling) are not covered in this review. Recreational and prefabricated events may be guided by different norms, and involve unique dynamics that deserve special attention elsewhere. Second, the generalizations and conclusions about fan violence may depend on how fans are defined. For this discussion, fans refer to the crowd of onlookers and not the people watching sports on television at home or in a bar. The question of how sports affects spectators, who are not physically present at the event, may be an intriguing issue, but not explored in this discussion. The physical and social environments of the home and bar are difficult to compare with environment of live action. The group of fans should not be confused with the groups of athletes, officials, sponsors, or commentators who also attend the event. The reasons for attending sporting events are not always consistent across various individuals and groups. Among the fans themselves, there may be individual and subgroup differences that make theorizing about fan violence a challenging pursuit. Third, violence should be distinguished from aggression. Violence is the use of excessive physical force, which causes or has the potential to cause harm or destruction (Coakley, 2001, p. 174). Aggression is verbal or physical behavior grounded in an intent to dominate, control, or do harm to another person (p. 175). Violence involves a behavioral component, but aggression entails motivation. Leonard (1993) has illustrated the conceptual distinction between violence and aggression:
For example, on the basis of the . . . behavioral definition of violence, if I accidentally slam a car door on your finger and cause injury, then I have performed a violent act. According to the motivational definition of violence, if I intend to harm you but fail to properly negotiate the slamming of the car door, my premeditated action is still construed as violent (in intent) (p. 157).

Thus, intent introduces an aggressive dimension to violence that may or may not be present in any given violence act. The terms violence and aggression are often used interchangeably in studies of sport, which has thwarted efforts to bridges various theories. Most (but not all) episodes of fan violence involve elements of both violence and aggression. As specific


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theories of fan violence are discussed in this paper, an attempt will be made to frame them in terms of violence, aggression, or both.

3. The scope of fan violence 3.1. Cross-cultural variations The most significant problems of fan violence, especially soccer violence, occur in Britain (Dunning, 2000), Italy (Roversi, 1991), Germany (Pilz, 1996), the Netherlands (van der Brug, 1994) and Belgium (Walgrave, Colaers, & van Limbergen, 1987), with violence from English soccer fans (i.e., football hooligans) being the most studied region and group. Other countries where fan violence has been scientifically studied include: Argentina (Duke & Crolley, 1996), Austria (Horak, 1991), Croatia (Perasovic, 1995), and Yugoslavia (Petrovic, 1990). Fan violence appears less common in North America than other regions of the world. Three explanations for the relative scarcity of fan violence in North America center on the sporting event, the sociodemographic structure of crowds, and sociopolitical factors. The relative absence of public interest in soccer, compared to other North American sports, may be one explanation for the relative infrequency of fan violence in the United States and other North American countries. A disproportionate amount of fan violence around the world occurs at soccer matches. There may be something unique about soccer that stimulates violence. For instance, it could be that spectators experience fewer opportunities at soccer matches to vicariously purge aggressive impulses, because soccer involves less on-the-field violence than other sports (e.g., rugby, American football). In the absence of a voyeuristic release, the impulses could be released in the form of fan violence. Such an explanation is doubtful. In some parts of the world, rugby (i.e., a more violent sport) attracts greater fan violence than soccer (Holt, 1981). Another soccer-centered explanation centers on the perceptions fans have of what happens on the field. Although soccer may involve less on-the-field violence than other sports, soccer is a high contact event with a territorial component, and fans see aggressive facial expressions on players. Some research has found that if spectators interpret on-the-field action to be violent, they are more likely to imitate that behavior (Smith, 1983). However, other sports (e.g., basketball) fit a similar description, and violence occurs much less frequently at these events than at soccer matches. Furthermore, reports of fan violence at soccer matches in North America remain rare, casting doubt on a soccer-centered explanation of fan violence. There does not appear to be much support at this time that something about soccer causes fan violence. It may be reasonable to assume that the game of soccer is promoted differently in North America than other parts of the world. Coakley (2001) argues that if an event is hyped in terms of violent images, spectators are more likely to perceive violence during the event itself, and they are more likely to be violent themselves (p. 196). It may be that fan violence in North America remains relatively uncommon, in part, because promoters and the media are more likely to focus on the action and drama expected from an event, not the blood and violence.

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A second explanation for why fan violence appears less often in North America focuses on the composition of crowds (Lewis, 1982; Roberts & Benjamin, 2000). The sociodemographic profile of North American spectators differs from the profile of European and South American fans. Soccer and many other sporting events in North America are attended by educated, middle-class audiences, and women make up a sizable proportion of attendees. For example, Roberts and Benjamin (2000) report that almost half (45%) of the supporters of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team (a typical NHL franchise) . . . were female, with an average income of almost US$70,000, considerably above the national average income (p. 173). In contrast, there is evidence that most fan violence in Europe and South America originates from young, working-class, white, males (Dunning, Murphy, & Williams, 1986; Zani & Kirchler, 1991) who represent a much higher proportion of attendees. The youth of fans could be an important factor in fan violence. Crime statistics indicate that almost half of recorded crimes are committed by the under-20 age category. The characteristics of fans may be less important to fan violence than the behavior of those groups responsible for controlling crowds. In media reports, police intervention is often implicated in fan violence. The recent violence in Ghana is an example:
The official toll issued by Ghana todayat least 123 deaths and 93 injuriesturned a stampede at a soccer match on Wednesday into the worst sporting disaster in Africas history and pushed to nearly 180 the number of spectators killed across the continent in the last month . . .. In all cases, many have accused the police of having failed to control the unruly crowds and, in at least two incidents, of making the stampedes worse by firing excessive amounts of tear gas (Onishi, 2001, p. A14).

Studies have found cross-cultural differences in the policing of crowds. Lewis (1982) has discovered that English police engage crowds more directly than North American police. That is, the police in North America may be slower to respond to fan violence, because the structure of stadiums and playing grounds prohibit the squaring off of police and fans, which could be a precursor to violence. In Australia, where violence at sporting events has become an issue, communities have expressed concern over the excessive use of police force (Palmer, 1995). Palmer argues that community understanding and involvement with the police are necessary components of social order. Crowd control problems could be reduced if the community becomes involved in the debate, investigation, and refinement of police polices. Third, the sociopolitical environment could be an important variable that explains differences in the frequency of fan violence across countries. In particular, the significance of race, class, and gender must be considered, as well as religious and political structures of professional sports teams. Racism appears at sporting events, as described in a recent story about Italian soccer.
As sure as the whistle blows every Sunday players will be vilified for the colour of their skin. It carries with it an echo of English football 25 years ago, when black footballers could be greeted by monkey noises and bananas thrown from the terraces. But even then the abuse was not so vicious and the disease not so widespreador so acceptable . . . not just skinheads are


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doing it . . . a coordinator of Football Against Racism in Europe was shocked to see women and children hurling abuse (Carroll, 2001).

Although such flagrant displays of racism are not often reported in the United States, accusations of racism in the crowd occasionally surface. Recently, the father of African American tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams argued that racism was responsible for why a predominantly white crowd booed Serena after Venus withdrew minutes before a much anticipated match between the two sisters. He further said that fans hurled racial epithets at him as people waited for the match to begin (Rhoden, 2001). Racial tension has been an ingredient in some of the worst fan violence in the United States, intensified by highly publicized rivalries between high schools whose students come from different backgrounds (Guttmann, 1986). Besides racism, many studies have linked fan violence to a reassertion of social control by the lower or rough working class in the face of the widening gap between the rich and poor (Dunning et al., 1986), and to demonstrations of a masculine identity (Hughson, 2000). In addition, fan violence may be an opportunity for competing teams, in some countries, to enact religious and colonial rivalries that are centuries old (Bradley, 1996). The United States is a nation of divided groups. However, sports teams in the United States, compared to other countries, arguably appear to be more aligned by apolitical geographical boundaries than by sociopolitical distinctions. For instance, Clemson and the University of South Carolina are intense college football rivalries. Both schools seek to claim king of football in the state, but the two teams are not characterized by oppositions such as Catholics opposing Protestants, or blacks opposing whites. In Scotland, where fan violence has become more problematic, the matches between two soccer clubs, the Glasgow Rangers and the Celtic Club, signify a religious rivalry (Bradley, 1996). No single factor emerges to explain why North America appears to have experienced less fan violence than other regions of the world. To summarize, there are three explanations for crosscultural differences in the frequency of fan violence that cannot be ruled out: (a) variations in the popularity of soccer (i.e., a sport closely associated with fan violence), and in particular, how the media hypes soccer, and other sporting events; (b) crowd factors that include sociodemographic differences in the people who attend sporting events, the police procedures for containing violence, and the structure of playing arenas; and (c) factors in the broader society that include racism, socioeconomic inequalities, gender norms, and religious tension. 3.2. Stages and forms There are very few generalizations about fan violence drawn from studies of the phenomenon across diverse societies. The most significant generalization may be that fan violence occurs everywhere in three stages of development (Marsh et al., 1996). First, there is an initial stage of random violence directed at sports officials, coaches, and players. These encounters occur inside the stadium, and typically involve at least two broad forms of violence: (a) verbal assaults and (b) missile throwing or aerial bombardments. Verbal assaults are probably the most common type of fan violence. Examples include clusters

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of fans singing, chanting, yelling, or making obscene gestures toward other fans, players, referees, or the police. The verbal attacks can range from mild heckling or name calling during the event, to threats of kicking some butt in the parking lot after the game. Verbal assaults can precipitate other forms of fan violence such as throwing things at people inside the playing arena. Examples of ammunition tossed by fans range from fairly harmless objects and liquids, such as hot dogs and beer, to potentially injurious or deadly materials that include bricks, darts, coins (sometimes with edges sharpened), bottles, broken seats, fireworks, smoke bombs, and crude petrol bombs (Beaton, 2001; Dunning et al., 1986; Lewis, 1982; Porter, 1993). The second stage of fan violence involves clashes between groups of fans or between fans and the police/security inside the stadium. The forms of fan violence in this stage range from verbal assaults and missile throwing, to fights that break out in seated sections of the stadium, to pitch invasions (Dunning et al., 1986). Pitch invasions may be one of the more dramatic forms of fan violence, and are sometimes precipitated by verbal assaults and missile throwing. In a pitch invasion, as many as two to three hundred fans rush toward the territory of opposing fans in an attempt to take the end of the rival fans. Hundreds of people can be trampled to death during the invasion, or in the mass flight from police who attempt to intervene. Second stage fan violence, particularly pitch invasions, are extremely rare (if not unheard of) occurrences in North America. They are more common in countries of South America, Europe, and Africa. The third stage of fan violence involves encounters between opposing groups of fans outside the stadium. Fans from opposing teams may engage one another at bars, trains, and busses around town before the game. The opportunity for pregame fights occurs because rival fans visit the same bars near the playing grounds, and use the same transportation (e.g., trains, busses, subways) en route to the game. It may be speculated that pregame fights occur less often on the North American continent because of the underdeveloped and underused public transportation system. Furthermore, the North American tradition is for fans to gather in private residences before the game rather than assemble in a bar (Roberts & Benjamin, 2000). Postgame fights in Europe sometimes begin with a run, involving a rush of young, male fans searching the streets for rival fans. In North America, third stage fan violence is uncommon, but postgame celebratory riots (e.g., fans taking to the streets to celebrate a big victory) in the United States have recently received attention (see Lewis as cited in Saraceno, 2000).

4. The social problem of fan violence A social problem exists when most people in a society agree that a condition threatens the quality of their lives and their most cherished values, and they also agree that something should be done to remedy that condition (Kornblum & Julian, 2001, p. 4). Much research has examined fan violence from a social problem approach. Lewis (1982) has described fan violence as an American social problem:
A week doesnt go by without the gathering of tens of thousands of people whose sole purpose it is to witness a sporting event. In recent years we have become increasingly aware


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of potential threats to civic peace posed by the existence of these massive but ephemeral collectivities . . .. Much work remains to be accomplished before policies can be instituted which will be effective in controlling and defusing the mass disruptions that have become the all-too-familiar correlates of public contest (p. 175).

Lewis attacks the problem of fan violence from a positivist perspective. Positivists assume that fan violence is governed by a set of rules rather than being a random, chaotic event. For instance, some research has identified precursors to fan riots, including an intensely contested championship series that concludes with a victor who hadnt won anything in 10 years or more (Lewis as cited in Saraceno, 2000, p. 3C). The goal of positivist research into fan violence is to identify laws and patterns associated with the phenomenon, so that violent episodes can be explained, predicted, and eventually controlled. The next three subsections of the social problem approach describe theories used to explain fan violence. The explanations will be organized into (a) theories that examine characteristics of the fans, (b) theories related to characteristics of the crowd, and (c) theories connected to the social, economic, and political context of the community or society. 4.1. Violence and the characteristics of fans The characteristics of fans have been used to explain fan violence. The most prevalent of these theories include instinct theory, frustrationaggression theory, and hooligan addiction theory. 4.1.1. Instinct theory The German neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed that much of human behavior is programmed by instincts. One instinct constructed by Freud was the death wish. He theorized that all human beings possess self-destructive energy that must find a safe release (i.e., catharsis) or else violence against oneself or others will result. Instinct theory implies that sporting events are safe opportunities for fans to express their self-destructive energy (Lorenz, 1966). In a variation of instinct theory, Freud (1922) believed that people in a crowd develop a childlike and frustrated dependence on a leader who cannot possibly control the primitive impulses and needs for love experienced by every member in the group. As people in the crowd grow dependent and frustrated, they renounce the moral component (i.e., superego) of their personality in favor of a more primitive and irrational level that could lead to violence. Contemporary frameworks for understanding the possible psychological sequence of events leading to football hooliganism have been developed (Brindley, 1982). 4.1.2. Frustrationaggression theory The premise of frustrationaggression theory is that aggressive behavior can be traced to frustration. The intense involvement characteristic of watching sports can lead fans to closely identify with their team. If their team plays poorly or faces defeat, fans may feel frustrated because they have not proven themselves. This inability to realize their desired identity may create a new frustration in their life that could lead to aggressive behavior. This biologically

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based understanding of fan violence has lead sport psychologists to measure the aggression levels of individual fans and focus on the type of people who attend sporting events. In a study of spectator aggression toward officials at a college basketball game, Wann, Carlson, and Schrader (1999) find that fans who report a high degree of identification with their team report more acts of aggression toward officials than fans who report low team identification. 4.1.3. Hooligan addiction theory While both instinct and frustrationaggression theories focus on aggression, other theories of fan violence maintain that violence can occur without aggressive intent. Hooligan addiction theory borrows from work that describes escalating stages of addiction (Brown, 1991). The core thesis of hooligan addiction theory is that extreme fans become addicted to violent behavior. For some fans, violent behavior may provide a sense of arousal predictable as the highs that come from drugs. In the same way that an alcoholic or gambler gains emotional satisfaction from thinking about and preparing for his or her drug or activity of choice, hooligans may get high from planning for and participating in violent events. 4.2. Violence, crowd dynamics and the event Some fan violence research employs concepts derived from studies of small groups. For instance, an important discovery of small group research is that processes develop within groups that are independent of the individuals who make them up. Examples of theories that focus on crowds, rather than individuals as the subjects of analysis, include emergent norm theory, contagion theory, convergence theory, collective mind theory, and value-added theory. Among the crowd dynamic theories, convergence theory is the only one that includes aggression as a mechanism in fan violence. The value-added theory has been applied to explain occurrences of fan violence (Lewis & Kelsey, 1994), but most crowd theories of fan violence have not been empirically tested. 4.2.1. Emergent norm theory People modify their judgements to make them more consistent with others in the group (Asch, 1951; Sherif, 1958). Common expectations or norms emerge about how people are to act. From this observation, Turner (1964) and Turner and Killian (1957) have developed an emergent norm theory where the power of the norm is more salient than individual motivation. Norm theory implies that people behave violently at sporting events, because they deem such violence to be appropriate or expected, and not because they are irrational from emotion or want to live vicariously through the battle they see on the playing field. 4.2.2. Contagion theory Unlike emergent norm theory, which asserts individual fans are active agents in determining the correct line of conduct, contagion theory states that individuals become unwittingly infected with emotion. Fan violence may erupt because one aroused person (e.g., usually a leader) affects another in the crowd, producing a heightened sense of arousal that further influences the leader. As people move throughout the crowd, they present each other


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as stimuli, and in turn react to the emotional tones of others (Milgram & Toch, 1969, p. 550). Arousal may reach the point where rational thought is subordinated. Violent acts, which are not normally considered by the individual crowd members, may be committed. 4.2.3. Convergence theory Convergence theory is less interactional than either emergent norm or contagion theory. Violence does not evolve among heterogeneous people at the sporting event. Rather, a process of selection occurs. The major assumption of convergence theory is that inhibitions are lowered in a crowd because like-minded people are gathered together. The fans consist of people who share common qualities. It may be that people surrounded by others, who are perceived to be similar, feel freer to express violent emotions. Furthermore, sporting events may attract people predisposed toward aggression. 4.2.4. Collective mind theory Near the turn of the 20th century, two French theorists articulated the idea that society consists of both individual and collective minds. These theorists had opposing views about the level of rationality existing within the individual and society. One theorist adopted the view that phenomena exist in the social system that unifies the masses Durkheim (1893/ 1933). One such phenomenon is the conscious collective, or collective mind (p. 79). This concept refers to the ideas and sentiments shared by each member of society. According to Durkheim, the conscious collective establishes moral order. In the absence of the conscious collective, individuals would act in their own self-interest, and not in the interests of society. The existence of the collective mind in society is accepted by Le Bon (1895/1960), but his interpretation of it contradicts Durkheim. In opposition to Durkheim, who proclaimed the moral supremacy of the conscious collective, Le Bon believed that the collective mind is intellectually inferior to the more rational individual. According to Le Bon, decent solitary individuals become transformed to a more primitive level in crowds where people become impulsive and lose judgement. It is believed by collective mind theorists that the more primitive the level of consciousness, the greater the likelihood of violence. From Le Bons perspective, the mechanisms for generating violence in a crowd are anonymity, contagion, and suggestibility (Milgram & Toch, 1969). 4.2.5. Value-added theory One popular crowd-based approach has been Smelsers (1963) value-added theory that identifies six determinants of crowd violence. By value-added, Smelser means that each determinant is a prerequisite that sets the limitations for the following determinant to operate. For instance, the second determinant of structural strain (e.g., rival fans are seated close enough together to engage in taunting and baiting) can occur only within the limits established by the first determinant of structural conduciveness (e.g., fans from different teams arrive at the football game). In Smelsers value-added model, the six determinants of fan violence are (a) structural conducivenessthe social structural conditions necessary for violence to occur (e.g., fans from different teams arrive at the football game), (b) structural strainan encounter that

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creates new norms or a deprivation that takes away once expected privileges (e.g., rival fans are seated close together creating opportunities to taunt and bait), (c) growth and spread of generalized beliefa perceived source of tension and a plan for its eradication (e.g., the belief may spread among home teams fans that something must be done about the lucky breaks visitors receive), (d) precipitating factora specific event that sparks violence (e.g., a controversial decision by a referee), (e) mobilizationthe affected group takes action (e.g., a group of leaders emerge in the opposing teams bleachers to fight), and (f) operation of social controlthe prevention and intervention by agents of social control (e.g., the actions taken by faculty observers, faculty marshals, athletic directors, police, etc.). Most research from Smelsers (1963) theory assumes a rationality that underlies fan violence. In particular, the potential for violence and aggression exists because fans in the crowd believe that force can be used to right a perceived wrong. The crowd crush at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England has been analyzed with the framework of Smelsers theory (Lewis & Kelsey, 1994). 4.3. Violence and the social, economic, and political context Some theories identify factors of fan violence more distal than the characteristics of fans, or the dynamics of crowds. Examples of these theories include functionalist theory, figurational theory, conflict theory, and postmodern theory. 4.4. Functionalist theory From a functionalist view, the institutions in society are analogous to the organs of the body. Interrelationships among the parts of society are necessary to maintain the social system (Parsons, 1951). Sports, for instance, may help create strong bodies and endow individuals with the personal characteristics (e.g., persistence, a healthy body) necessary for the economic system of capitalism to thrive. At the heart of the functionalist perspective is the problem of order. How can a system comprised of individuals pursuing their self-interest achieve any order at all? One answer for functionalists is the pursuit of temporary roles. The sick role, for example, may be functional because it offers a respite from the pressures of working in a competitive system. Similarly, the fan role may permit people to let off steam. Functionalists would argue that it is more appropriate to act out at a ball game than at work or home. Thus, fan violence may serve a purpose. It occurs because people need a break from their disciplined lives. Fan violence may even be interpreted as a ritual (Marsh, Rosser, & Harre, 1978), and to the extent that rituals provide energy and a sense of renewal, fan violence may sustain order in society. 4.4.1. Figurational theory Figurational theory (Dunning, Murphy, & Waddington, 1991) may be the most interdisciplinary fan violence theory, combining biological, psychological, sociological, and historical approaches. The theory introduces the importance of social class, and has its roots in a rather complex theory of civilization (Elias, 1978), based on the idea that human history has moved


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toward a refinement of manners. From this observation, it is speculated that there are greater expectations for people to monitor their own behavior as opposed to external constraints, fewer structured opportunities to express human aggression, and more guilt, shame, and anxiety about experiencing feelings of aggression. Modern violence exists in the form of socially constructed ritual violence that differs from the freer and more unexpected episodes of violence from the past. Civilization has had an important implication for violence. That is, expectations for self-control and the decline of external constraints to control human behavior lead to not more aggression, but the type of chaotic and bloody aggression that occurs among fans at sporting events. While Elias (1978) believes in the progression of a civilized lifestyle, he asserts that the civilization process is not a random phenomenon. Rather, the process begins with the top classes and moves downward. This trickle-down process implies that groups with different lifestyles and resources will inevitably interact. The dissimilarities and inequalities become visible at sporting events where many owners, athletes, and players are rich, but many of the fans receive average or below average incomes. Beginning in the post World War II years until the mid 1970s, pro athletes made two to four times the median family income in the United States. In the year 2000, the ratios between salaries in the major mens professional sports and the median family income was 44:1 for the National Basketball Association; 40:1 for Major League Baseball; 21:1 for the National Hockey League; and 20:1 for the National Football League (Coakley, 2001, p. 339). According to Murphy (1990), the lifestyle of the working class and the recognition of their inequality became factors in fan violence. In particular, violence can be traced to unruly fans who come from the rough or exploited working class. Research of football hooligans in Britain finds that most convicted hooligans consist of partly skilled or unskilled workers as opposed to professional or skilled workers (Murphy, 1990). The value orientation of these laborers may deviate from the rest of society. It has been speculated, for instance, that circumstances of economically disadvantaged groups require them to focus on the present for survival, and this present-time orientation could lead to impulsiveness and a disregard of consequences (Banfield, 1974). Dunning, Murphy, and Williams (1988) further argue that the rougher sections of the working class experience resentment toward the securely employed, and have strong feelings about kinship and territory, and a distrust of outsiders. The territorial attitude assumed to exist within certain segments of the working class may have been amplified by the changes in organized sport (e.g., especially football in England) in the 20th century. Taylor (1982) has argued that prior to the 1960s unskilled workers who were active with players and involved in policy making attended English football. As affluence among players and owners grew, the working class felt a loss of ownership over the game. Hooliganism could be a violent product of this process. 4.4.2. Conflict theory The conflict perspective has its roots in the 19th century Marx and Engels (1846/1947) idea that structural conditions (e.g., capitalism) in society create classes of people with opposing interests. For instance, laborers who want less work for more money are in conflict with the owners of production, who want more work for less money. Sport may be another institution that creates tension in society.

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Violence at sporting events may sometimes be connected to strains that exist between fans because of economic, religious, ethnic, or political reasons (Eitzen, 1979). Sporting events may be catalysts for violence because the events fail to provide fans with the power and resources to relieve social strains. Violence forces others to take notice and respond to the needs of the powerless. Conflict theory argues that the political maneuvers and economic interests of sport may create the conditions for fan violence. One explanation for the excess violence in contemporary professional sports emphasizes the culpability of the owners of sports facilities who increase their profits through the sale of alcoholic beverages at games (Levine & vinten Johansen, 1981). Conflict theory introduces the culture of commercialization, and focuses on how sport emphasizes heroic values, including violence, to generate spectator interest, and to enhance the chances for players commercial reputations and popularity (Coakley, 1981, p. 44). According to conflict theory, fan violence originates with the corporate decisions made by powerful people working within a capitalist system. 4.4.3. Postmodern theory There are many features of postmodern thought, but postmodernism is generally described as a break from modernist thinkers (e.g., Marx, Weber, Durkheim) who attempted to explain the conditions of social life with broad, sweeping theories. For postmodernists, society cannot be understood in a Marxist framework that emphasizes the significance of capitalism and class conflict, a Weberian scheme of bureaucratization, or a Durkheimian focus on forms of social solidarity. Postmodern society is better understood as the transgression of the normal (Douglas, 1969). Of course, the transgression of boundaries cannot occur unless boundaries exist. Boundaries that include nationalism and masculinity continue to exist in the postmodern era, but they are constructed and deconstructed at the will of the people. In particular, the desires to defend against outsiders and become the proper male exist as before, but for different reasons. They exist not to divide society in some logical and orderly way (e.g., home team vs. visiting team, or males vs. females), but to create exciting opportunities for breaching nationalism and masculinity. In a postmodern world, these boundaries of nationalism and masculinity operate as confrontations articulated by male fans rather than structures created to prevent disorder (King, 1997). For instance, male fans may use the coexistence of outrage and sensationalization propagated by the media to continue establishing and breaching boundaries for the sake of pleasure and affirmation of identity, and not necessarily because of aggression. The next section introduces the moral panic approach to fan violence. Comments from and research of sports officials (Ward, Lewis, & Benson, 2000, 2001) are used to illustrate the social problem and moral panic approaches.

5. The moral panic approach to fan violence Fan violence has not exclusively been discussed as a social problem. Some scholars have voiced impatience at the degree of public attention the phenomenon receives (Moorhouse, 1991):


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The sober truth is that football violence is not a particularly large segment of all recorded violence and that one theoretically puzzling issue is why, given a high value on masculinity norms, heavy drinking, and pre-existing social antagonisms in British society, football hooligans have not been a lot more violent. Certainly, we have cause to wonder why policy makers, funding bodies and yes, academics and students are so interested in it because on figures alone it is difficult to claim that it really is exceptional or even an important indicator of the well-being of society (p. 493).

Moorhouse considers that fan violence represents a moral panic, that is, is a sweeping opposition to a phenomenon that threatens social values and interests. Moral panics are characterized by rapid and intense emotional fervor toward an issue that the media and other social control agents call to public attention. This approach accepts that fan violence is a ghastly occurrence, but argues that the interpretation of the violence, and the crusade to do something about it, are constructed by groups who shape a phenomenon into news. Since the term moral panic was first coined (Cohen, 1972/1980), studies have surfaced on how various moral entrepreneurs incite opposition to a given phenomenon. Some of the recent moral panics or folk devils include heroine use (Agar & Reisinger, 2000), women drinking during pregnancy (Golden, 2000), school shootings (Burns & Crawford, 1999), boys underachievement (Griffin, 2000), and child molestation (Goode, 2000). The moral panic approach to fan violence has its origins in the constructionist study of deviant human behavior. The constructionist perspective departs from the positivist view that fixed, universal truths about fan violence await discovery. While the positivist perspective searches for causes of fan violence, the constructionist perspective examines labelers, the process of labeling, and the impact of labeling. That is, constructionists are interested in who defines fan violence, the process of explaining fan violence to the public, and the consequences of labeling fan violence as a social problem. 5.1. Defining fan violence According to the moral panic approach, social problems are generated and orchestrated by powerful groups who represent the status quo. The label of problem may be applied to any group or condition that threatens the forces of law and order as well as conventional morality. From a constructionist perspective, moral panics are mechanisms that local and national governments use to create social order. It may be that communities need to periodically create deviance for the purpose of highlighting boundaries of good and evil. As Erikson (1962) explains:
As a trespasser against the group norms, he [the deviant fan] represents those factors which lie outside the groups boundaries: he informs us, as it were, what evil looks like, what shapes the devil can assume. And in doing so, he shows us the difference between the inside of the group and the outside. It may well be that without this ongoing drama at the outer edges of group space, the community would have no inner sense of identity and cohesion . . .. Thus deviance [fan violence] . . . may itself be, in controlled quantities, an important condition for preserving stability (pp. 307 314).

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At least one community in the United States appears interested in demarcating lines of acceptable and unacceptable fan behavior. The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has institutionalized a plan to label fans (Ward et al., 2002). The IHSAA has taken steps to address sportsmanship at boys varsity events. In particular, Iowa sports officials have been asked to use a five-point scale to assign sportsmanship ratings (1 = superior, 5 = unsatisfactory) to the fans after every athletic event. At the end of each academic year, the IHSAA publishes in local newspapers the schools rated in the top 10% and bottom 10% in fan sportsmanship. It may be speculated that singling out the bad schools serves an important social function for Iowa communities. Thio (2001) theorizes that when some individuals or groups are labeled deviant, there will follow some positive consequences for the community as the labeler, the most important consequence being the preservation and strengthening of social cohesion and social order (p. 38). 5.2. Process of explaining fan violence From a moral panic approach, fan violence is not a static condition whose causes are to be sought out. Instead, fan violence is a dynamic process by which powerful groups apply the stamp of problem, set the parameters for solving it, and use tools such as the media to ensure that the broader society shares official explanations, and concurs in the belief that something must be done. The media may be an important agent that presents the issue of fan violence to the public (Dunning et al., 1986; Lewis, 1982; Weis, 1986). Media stories tend to focus on how fan violence begins at the sporting event where crowd members attend to their most basic inner needs. These needs include: getting drunk to lessen ones inhibitions; identifying with an individual or group to maintain and enhance ones self-esteem; compensating for ones sense of powerlessness in a complex world; and, expressing anger toward villainous personas (e.g., superstar players who switch teams to sign a more lucrative contract). Lewis (1982) finds very few structural reasons for fan violence mentioned by the press. The most structural explanation may be that the relatively late 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. start of many professional football and basketball games permits people to get off work and chug some beers before going to the game. By the time the game begins, fans may already be pretty hammered. Lewis concludes that the issue of fan violence is seldom framed in terms of racial conflict, economic problems, strikes, and school-related problems (p. 183). Media explanations of fan violence may serve useful functions for local and national governments. In particular, media stories typically deflect attention away from more pressing social issues, and deter speculations on the role that established and trusted groups may play in the creation and maintenance of fan violence. For instance, the sportsmanship rating system designed by the athletic association in Iowa puts the onus of poor sportsmanship on fans, players, and coaches rather than social institutions or social structures that surround the world of sport.


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It should be noted that some groups connected to sport have identified factors beyond fans that could be related to fan violence. For example, an examination of comments by sports officials (Ward et al., 2000) reveals how school administrators, the media, stadium design, and the culture of competition, are implicated in fan violence:
School administration needs to be more active in removing offensive fans, coaches, and players. Administrators, coaches, and announcersthese three groups could help control fan violence before it gets out of hand . . .. Most fan disorder could be handled early and without violence by school administrators, were they to accept responsibility and take care of it early. My feeling on fan violence is directly related to TV sports and the general lack of knowledge or rules. The treatment of all officials by the TV media and the close look at every play by the media places officials in a bad view by the fan. Large schools (in our state4A) seem to have less aggressive behavior from fans, but the fans are usually seated further away due to stadium design. Small schools (1A 3A) seem to have more adults close to the sidelines and they seem to be more aggressive with profanity. I feel the parents put too much pressure on the sport to win and have their athletes achieve a high level of competition. This pressure has distorted the view that high school and college sports is still a game to be enjoyed by all involved.

To put the responsibility of fan violence on individuals (e.g., fans, players, coaches), or other narrow parameters such as the violent nature of sport, protects groups in powerful positions who reap rewards from doing business as usual. Contrariwise, if respected authorities are implicated in fan violence, they could face disadvantages from the restructuring of power that others might deem necessary to control the problem. The process of explaining fan violence does not presuppose a conspiracy between sport and the media. In other words, it is not suggested that powerful groups in sport actively use the media to hide the potential causes of fan violence that might implicate the institutions that govern sport. It is more likely that organizations (e.g., athletic associations) and social institutions (e.g., the media) share and benefit from the dominant ideology of the individual, which appeals to Western civilization. The further that social institutions distance themselves from potential social problems, the less likely that the taken-for-granted effectiveness of public school systems, capitalism, and dominant American values (e.g., individualism, competition, achievement, and success) will be called into question. One may argue that the control of fan violence will best be accomplished by implementing interventions that require adjustments from all groups, both those groups who hold positions of power and those who do not. This plan may not be easy to put into practice. There are time, money, political, and moral constraints associated with interventions that will inevitably tip explanations of and solutions to fan violence that follows the path of least resistancethe path of the status quo. This means that unless systematic changes in institutions and shifts in social values occur, systematic or structural factors potentially related to fan violence will not likely gain popularity.

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5.3. Consequences of labeling The groups of people linked to fan violence receive labels. In England, they are named hooligans, and in Italy ultras (i.e., extremists). When fan violence erupts in countries outside England, the behavior has been labeled the spread of the English Disease (Duke & Crolley, 1996). Football supporters are further demonized by the assignment of official labels. For instance, Britains National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which is responsible for collecting information about hooligans, assigns fans into three categories: A, for lawabiding ones; B, for those who will fight if provoked or presented with the opportunity; and C, for serious, committed offenders. The demonizing of sports fans may lead to further fan violence because labels such as hooligan or thug fill a void for some fans. Many sports fans are young, and represent a marginal group in society. In Britain, they are marginal because of their youth and working class status. North American fans may be demographically different than their British counterparts, but North American fans also face a relative deprivation. In fact, it appears that fans in all countries experience a growing social and economic distance between themselves and the players. That is, players at most all levels of sport, successful or not, achieve a degree of celebrity status. At the professional level, their status is enhanced by extraordinary financial rewards. Furthermore, fans are not provided opportunities at sporting events to display their athletic skills that likely fall short of the feats performed by many players. As Lewis (cited in Saraceno, 2000) describes they [fans] cant dunk like Shaq or shoot like Reggie Miller, so they riot . . . and when you think about it, rioting does take some skill (p. 3A). In other words, the uncertainty of employment, the certainty of economic inequality, and the general exacerbation of needs confront the lives of many fans at a game. Fan violence may be the remedy or mechanism that raises some groups in society to a visible level. One might wonder why negative identities, as opposed to positive identities, would be desired among fans. One answer may be that fans who cause trouble capture the media spotlight. Research has found that in all countries with significant levels of fan violence, rival groups of hooligans actively compete for column inches and mentions in sensational headlines (Marsh et al., 1996). Thus, amplification of fan violence by the media could be a principal cause of the problem for at least two reasons. First, the media constructs a muchneeded sense of identity by calling attention to fan deviance, which leads to more fan violence in order to reinforce that identity. Second, it could be argued that negative identities signify rebellion against a system that provides unjust or unequal rewards. Some social theorists contend that fan violence will remain a problem as long as social conditions for young people do not change (Pilz, 1996). The best temporary solution may be to integrate difficult young fans into the teams they support rather than to distance or exclude them. It may be premature to conclude that fans prefer negative labels. Some research suggests that the principal motivation of fans is just plain media coverage, and not necessarily a controversial image. For instance, Marsh et al. (1996) argue that the festive, but peaceful Danish Roligans and the Tartan Army in Scotland take pride in the disproportionate amount of media coverage they receive, compared to their more violent rivals. In an effort to curtail


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fan violence, Marsh et al. propose that ceremonious media coverage of nonviolent groups of fans be used in combination with the removal of headlines that draw attention to violent groups of fans. In North America, gangs of sports fans are not typically named or labeled by the media, but the moral panic approach predicts that too much attention to fan violence raises the potential for the problem to develop.

6. Conclusions There are three reasons why scientific inquiry into fan violence has generated many theories, but few facts about the phenomenon. First, the topic itself is problematic. For instance, in some cases fan violence is clearly a planned activity, and in other cases fan violence seems to surface spontaneously. Fan violence consists of both physical assaults and verbal attacks, which raises the question of whether understandings of this phenomenon are similar or different across its varied forms. Furthermore, the study of fan violence in North America may require a different theoretical framework than the study of fan violence in Europe or other regions. It is not surprising that many scholarly investigations into the topic remain exploratory. Second, the relative disinterest in the social scientific study of sport hinders the production of new knowledge on the topic. For instance, sport did not become a subfield of general sociology until the 1960s (i.e., when studies of crowd behavior were more abundant). Today, there are 43 sections (e.g., medical sociology, family, sociology, and computers) of the American Sociological Association, but sociology of sport is not one of the sections. Third, studies of fan violence present few new insights because scholars of fan violence typically fail to integrate their work with the work of others. The large numbers of social scientists competing for recognition in a relatively narrow subject area explain, in part, why no serious interdisciplinary work on the topic has appeared. The provincial character of the subject is evident by vitriol discussions between researchers that resemble early forms of football fan disorder (Marsh et al., 1996). There needs to be reviews of fan violence that make sense of the many theories. This paper helps fill that void. It has been argued in this review that social problem and moral panic approaches represent distinct approaches to the study of fan violence. From the standpoint of perspective, this distinction seems warranted. The social problem approach from the positivist perspective implies the search for causes of fan violence; the moral panic approach from the constructionist perspective directs the focus on narratives of fan violence constructed by the media and other social agents. Besides the search for causes versus the search for societal reactions, prevalence of fan violence represents another point of departure for social problem and moral panic approaches. From the social problem approach, fan violence is patterned behavior that threatens the social fabric. From the moral panic perspective, media reports of fan violence exaggerate the empirical reality of the phenomenon. However, it is worth saying that the apparent infrequency of fan violence across the globe, and in particular North America, should not undermine its significance. There may be much fan violence that gets ignored or goes

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unreported. For instance, Ward et al. (2000) have chronicled reports of fan violence from high school sports officials in the United States:
I had a situation while working a high school wrestling conference tournament last year where one school became hostile with me based on the outcome of a consolation match. While seated with my back to the schools crowd, they yelled several profanity laced comments and actually threw three objects such as paper and candy at me . . .. I felt I might have to physically protect myself in an ugly situation. Any cases that I remember were after the game was completed when leaving the field. After a freshman football game my crew was met at the gate by 4 or 5 men in their 20s. They proceeded to yell profanities at us about what a bad job we had done (their team was beaten badly). They followed us to the car screaming all the way. This was a very scary experience for me.

These recollections reveal a terrifying face of fan violence. The evidence suggests that perpetrators of fan violence work within groups rather than alone. The collaboration among violent fans intensifies their menacing appearance. Presence of groups in episodes of fan violence highlights the potential significance of we-group versus they-group antagonisms (Dunning, 2000). Sports officials represent a much different group than fans who attend the game. They are distant from the fans in terms of their appearance, perceived coolness, and impartiality. These differences alone may be enough to give them an outsider status from the perspective of fans, but a controversial call or decision made by sports officials would certainly confirm their enemy position. In discussing the varied factors related to fan violence, Dunning (2000) speculates on the relationship between fan violence and in-group/out-group antagonisms by relating fan violence to (a) social class and regional inequalities in Britain; (b) religious sectarianism in Scotland and Northern Ireland; (c) the linguistic subnationalisms of the Catalans, Castilians, Gallegos and Basques in Spain; (d) city particularism and perhaps the division between the North and South as expressed in the formation of the Northern League in Italy; and, (e) the relations between East and West and political groups of the left and right in Germany (p. 161). Dunning cautions that the universal existence of we-group and they-group antagonisms across the many forms of fan violence represents a working hypothesis, and not a statement of fact. However, it seems appropriate to pursue empirical, comparative research to test, modify, and possibly reject the hypothesis that the intensification of we-group and they-group bonds increases the likelihood of fan violence. 6.1. Group antagonisms: social problem and moral panic approaches In the social problem approach, group oppositions appear in frustrationaggression theory, which predicts that unsuccessful efforts by fans to achieve a desired identity (i.e., winner), compel them to act aggressively toward an outside group they deem responsible for their unrealized ambition. That is, the we-group wishes to maximize identification with their team,


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but when that maximization becomes threatened, a villainous, they-group is created to become a target of their aggression. In value-added theory, in-group and out-group oppositions are evident in at least the structural conduciveness determinant of collective behavior. For example, Lewis and Kelsey (1994) argue that a differentiated market between ticket holders [i.e., insiders] and nonticket holders, [i.e., outsiders] in part, was responsible for the crowd crush at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England in 1989 (p. 190). Group oppositions appear in other social problem theories: (a) figurational theorys assertion that the rough working class (i.e., we-group) has resented their loss of control over soccer to wealthy owners and players (i.e., they-groups), and consequently, express their discontent through pitch invasions, and other forms of fan violence with strong territorial themes; (b) conflict theorys argument that racial, ethnic, and social class inequalities in the broader society provide the impetus for the powerless (i.e., we-group) to engage in fan violence with the goal of the powerful (i.e., they-group) responding to their needs; and, (c) postmodernism theorys implication that pitch invasions represent postmodernists (i.e., we-group) attempts to breaching the boundaries imposed by modern society (i.e., they-group). Group antagonisms are also implied in the moral panic approach. For instance, the labelers and the labeled represent two opposing groups. Politicians, sport administrators, the media, and moral authorities (i.e., labelers) raise the passion of the public to create opposition against a perceived problem (i.e., the labeled). Further fan violence research can examine how media hype positions competing teams in favorable versus unfavorable categories, or fans into respectable versus unrespectable categories. As noted earlier in this review, the dichotomy of good and evil, and the campaign against evil, may need to be periodically manufactured in order to promote and sustain the social consensus necessary for order in society. Moral panics operate as rituals that renew public faith in government. If group antagonisms are a significant factor in fan violence, research can explore ways to reduce that antagonism. For instance, the entertainment dimension of sport could be promoted as strongly as the competitive dimension. This author has seen crowds of fans captivated by sports officials who perform half-time dance routines at basketball games. The sports officials portray themselves not as clowns or buffoons, but as sharing in the fun with fans. Such microlevel pursuits do not preclude efforts to implement macrolevel solutions. In fact, some scholars and administrators might argue that microlevel changes represent Band-Aid solutions to fan violence that ultimately waste time and resources. Conversely, the best plan might be to maximize resources that affect societal-level changes. The author shares the belief in macrolevel changes, but suggests that microlevel attempts to integrate fans are far more effective than the measures of surveillance and punishment of fans currently favored in most countries. This discussion of the potential theoretical linkages between the social problem and moral panic approaches provide an exemplar for the type of integrative work needed to reduce the provincial study of fan violence. More detailed comparisons may discover presence of group antagonisms across additional theories, and further develop common themes across social problem and moral panic approaches.

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Acknowledgments The author recognizes Denzel E. Benson and Jerry M. Lewis for furthering his understanding of social deviance and sports in society. Dr. Lewis has generously reviewed an earlier draft of this paper. References
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