This study used a mixed methodology design to examine verbal aggression as an underground or backstage behavior. Male and female basketball players, aged 10 – 19 (N=178), completed both open-ended questions and a modified version of the Sport Behavior Inventory. Younger players found verbal aggression (i.e., trash talking) to be less legitimate for use in sport than high school players (F (2, 175) = 3.54, p < .05). High school players perceived trash talking to be used more often to bully opponents than used as a joke. Results are discussed in the context of a Goffmanian theoretical framework. Implications for coaches, officials, and coaching educators are considered.