This paper examines the view that there is no serious fan violence in North America. North American sport has shown a stubborn resilience in maintaining its “squeaky clean” image despite the fact that fan disorders occurred throughout the twentieth century, continue to show signs of consistency and institutional patterning, and have prompted extensive measures from sports officials, police, and authorities. The paper explores nature and extent issues, the varied responses by the authorities, preliminary explanatory approaches, and the possibility that a particular style of media coverage may have contributed to misunderstandings about the phenomena. Characterizing the ongoing fascination in the sociology of sport with a variety of forms of violence done by and to athletes as appropriate but unbalanced, the paper recommends a revival in research momentum on North American sports crowd disorder which remains a socially significant but understudied topic.
The author is with the Department of Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation Management, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.