The Kids Are All Right: The Appeal of Violence in Sports for Children

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Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Laurel Traynowicz


Sport culture has always had an appeal to children, and the result is often lifelong fandom. Children see athletes as heroes and begin to emulate them in order to someday hear the roar of the crowd for themselves. Self-report data indicate that children overwhelmingly favor basketball over hockey 4:1 as their favorite sport to watch (Scholastic, 2014), yet these numbers don't seem to be represented in the crowd at arenas. This study attempted to determine what factors contribute to larger audience participation among children at violent sporting events. Information gained from interviewing parents at professional basketball, professional hockey, and NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball provides insight into what appeals to their children. Additional methods included 1) conducting communication analyses of television shows and movies--made specifically to appeal to children--that influence children’s fandom, and 2) monitoring the use of social media hashtags. While there were several contributing factors to children attending sporting events, the excitement of violence was the biggest draw for the smallest fans. Are violence and excitement of the sport responsible for more children in the crowd?


Scholastic. (2014). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/kidusasu/favsport/index.htm

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