when fighting is normal

Russ Roberts interviews political scientist Mike Munger on the topic of rules and institutions, using sports as an example. One of the most interesting things about sports is that there are informal rules governing fighting. A few key ideas:

  • To decrease overall fighting, you allow a little bit. It acts as a deterrent.
  • In sports with little protection, like hockey or baseball, you get ritualized fighting.
  • In sports with ritualized fighting, you get fight specialists. You don’t want skilled players getting injured.
  • In low fighting sports, like football, you need to slow things down with heavy referee intervention.
  • Once you  protect athletes with equipment, fighting goes up because it is less damaging.
  • If sports becomes lucrative, then norms change to reduce fighting. You don’t want your money generating stars missing the game.

A nice discussion of how norms, rules, and technology all affect each other.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 22, 2013 at 12:01 am

4 Responses

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  1. In European ice hockey (and European sports in general) there is no ritualized fighting. So it’s nothing more than the usual American barbarism …



    August 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

  2. what about soccer?



    August 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

  3. If ritualized fighting is barbarism then what does that make diving in European soccer?



    August 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm

  4. kultiviert: the greatest majority of NHL players were both born and grew up playing in Junior leagues outside the States. To their credit, though, they don’t get up from every foul and penalty with an over-acted wince on their face like their buddies back home.


    Graham Peterson

    August 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

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