They are familiar scenes: sports fans turning on each other in acts of violence, and mobs of sports fans flooding onto the field or out into the streets. Is there something inherent in the competitive sport setting that produces this frequently dangerous behaviour? Written in an engaging style, this book addresses the question by exploring the wide range of influences at work, from a social psychological perspective. Topics range from a focus on the personality traits that predispose individuals to act aggressively, to a wider concern with who riots, why they riot, and situations that favour the occurence of sports riots. Research on the equally disturbing phenomenon of crowd panics explores the underlying causes and peculiar behaviour of people caught in the panics. Aggression is influenced and exacerbated by multiple factors: troublemakers who incite others to aggression, influence by the media, differing cultural backgrounds, blind obedience, and attempts by individuals to emulate unworthy personal heroes.
Less obvious factors such as temperature, noise, and colour also exert important effects on interpersonal aggression, and drugs such as alcohol and steroids further inflame the possibilities for violence. Russell examines all these factors in his international and interdisciplinary presentation of the best and most recent findings in the study of sports aggression, and provides a series of proposals intended to prevent or minimise the severity of riots and panics. Additionally, he explores the relationship between aggression and what is probably the most revered concept in sports: competition.