The highway to hooliganism? An evaluation of the impact of combat sport participation on individual criminality

C. Jenkins, Ellis Tom

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The aim of this research was to evaluate whether combat sport has an impact on participants’criminality, and if so, whether combat sport is appropriate for use in offender treatment programmes and crime reduction strategies. The paper first provides a comprehensive summary review of the existing evidence on the relationship between crime and sports participation in general, and then on crime and combat sports in particular. The paper then presents and discusses findings from new primary research designed to address the issues raised in the review. A semistructured questionnaire, combining Likert scale items and open questions, was issued to 50 individuals who regularly trained at two different combat sports facilities. The research was designed to assess the relationship between combat sports participants and commonly experienced ociocultural and individual risk factors. Based on the findings, we argue that participation in combat sports can distance individuals from nonstructural risk factors in behavioural, community/social and economic spheres. Detachment from risks in these areas makes combat sport potentially appropriate for use within interventions aimed at: violent offenders; those who offend in groups; emotionally impulsive offenders; and as a moderator of antisocial behaviour. However, further research is required to understand fully the impact of such interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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