UT Professor Cites Link Between Sports and Fan Violence

Knoxville — Los Angeles Lakers fans celebrating Monday night’s National Basketball Association championship victory set fires and vandalized cars outside the Los Angeles arena where the game was played.

A University of Tennessee sports psychologist said fans can become emotionally linked with their favorite team.

“When you consider the high value placed on winning,” said Dr. Craig Wrisberg, UT professor of cultural studies in education, “and combine it with all the ads for clothing with the team’s logo, there’s a big emotional investment in being a fan.”

Studies have shown that post-game aggression by spectators is higher in contact sports than in non-contact sports, Wrisberg said.

“The act of participating as a spectator, with all the organ music and activity, gets the crowd excited and involved,” Wrisberg said. “Aggression levels are higher, win or lose, among spectators following contact sports than prior to the event.”