Are sports rivalries improved by violence?

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The scholarly attention paid to the ways in which television viewers perceive sports action as violent, how perceptions may differ across games, and how perceptions might impact enjoyment is limited. The current project extends the literature by investigating perceived violence and enjoyment across different intercollegiate (American) football contests between two heated rivals. A total of 568 individuals viewed one of four televised contests featuring the same hometown team: two against heated rivals, two against nonrivals. Results reveal that viewers clearly perceived rivalry games to be more violent than nonrivalry games. Moreover, games won by the hometeam were seen as more violent than those lost. Also, those perceiving high levels of violence reported greater enjoyment than those who perceived low levels of violence in all games. Finally, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that perceived violence contributes differently to the enjoyment of games won than to games lost. Possible explanations for and implication of the findings are offered.

Source: “Examining Perceived Violence in and Enjoyment of Televised Rivalry Sports Contests” from Mass Communication and Society, Volume 12, Issue 3 July 2009 , pages 311 – 331

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