The social learning of aggression in youth football in the United States

Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1985 Mar;10(1):26-35.


Our investigation was designed to examine a) the extent to which young male football players and nonplayers learned about illegal aggressive actions through the observation of college and professional football; b) if there was a relationship between youth football players' observations of illegal aggressive acts and the transmission of those acts to players' own games; and c) if there were differences between high school players' and youth league players' awareness of illegal aggressive acts and the use of those acts in their games. The volunteer subjects were 347 high school football players and 122 high school nonplayers between the ages of 15 and 18 years, and 125 youth league football players and 133 junior high or middle school nonplayers between the ages of 12 and 14 years. Results revealed that players consumed significantly more college and professional football than nonplayers. Although statistically significant, players learned, through observation, only one more illegal aggressive act on the average than nonplayers. High school players learned an average of only 1.4 more aggressive acts than youth league players. Results also revealed significant correlations between the number of illegal aggressive acts that players observed and the number of those acts used in their own games for both high school (r = .62) and youth league (r = .50) players. It appears that many illegal aggressive acts are observed through college and professional football by young football players and nonplayers and a relationship exists between the observation of illegal acts and their subsequent use in players' games.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression*
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Football*
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Social Values*
  • United States