Too many sports, even at a junior or community level, were increasingly growing a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, psychosocial aspects of sport and physical activity lecturer Fleur McIntyre said.
‘We are very much a country which links our identity to sport, and particularly pride ourselves on winning,’ she said.
‘However, this love of winning above all else has unfortunately been placed at the forefront of junior and community sport, which is now seeing spectators behaving poorly, whether that’s through abuse or aggression.
‘Being a fan is one thing but certain highly identified fans have trouble separating their identity and subsequently their self-esteem or ego to that of the team they support and their psyche and happiness is often dependent on how their team performs.’
Spectator to player abuse was more common.
‘They often feel that by shouting abuse or derogatory things, it gives them a sense of control and influence on a game in which really, as spectators, they have very little influence,’ she said.
‘The term ‘ugly parents’ is not something new to sport and unfortunately there is a growing number of issues with parents and inappropriate behaviour on the sideline.
‘There have been positive steps taken within sport with codes of conduct established for spectators and parents, but it will also take a major cultural shift on how we view sport and acceptable fan behaviour at sporting events,’ Dr McIntyre said.