Violence in Sport, 1800-2000

Emma Griffin

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Through most of human history, displays of violence, either between humans or animals, have been an integral component of sport. Violent sports have been global in reach and they have extended across every social rank, though they have been largely a male domain, with many societies placing restrictions on the extent to which women might participate in sports of any kind whether as participants and spectators. Yet the period since 1800 has witnessed an unmistakable redrawing of the place of violence in sport, with many societies becoming considerably more squeamish about sports that manipulate or showcase aggression between men or animals for entertainment. The West initiated legislation prohibiting animal cruelty in the nineteenth century, and these extended, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, to other parts of the globe in the twentieth century. There has also been a global move to restrict the degree of interpersonal violence in martial arts, boxing and wrestling, and although hand-to-hand combat sports remain popular across the globe, regulation has sharply reduced the risk of death or serious during competitive events. As a result, the period 1800-2000 has witnessed new controls on the degree of violence permitted in sport.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge World History of Violence
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 4: 1800 to the Present
EditorsLouise Edwards, Nigel Penn, Jay Winter
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781316585023
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020

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