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This case study examined interpersonal communication in sport in the form of verbal aggression among elite athletes in the Australian Football League (AFL). It focused on the experience and motivation of athletes who use athlete-to-athlete verbal aggression and the responses of athletes who have been the targets of verbal aggression during games. In addition, the reasons athletes have for not engaging in verbal aggression were also examined. Purposive sampling procedures produced a select sample of elite male athletes known for their aggressive approach to playing Australian football. Qualitative methods and deductive analysis procedures, informed by J.H. Kerr’s categories of sport aggression, were used to interpret the interview data. Meaningful insights into verbal aggression in the AFL were obtained. Based on the underlying motivation, interview transcript descriptions of incidents were identified as examples of power, thrill, and anger verbal aggression.
Kerr is with the Faculty of Sport Education, Culture and Technology, Toin University, Yokohama, Japan. Grange is with the Australian Football League Players’ Association.