Posted by: Dr Martha Eddy | February 12, 2008

The Role of Games and Sports in Violence Prevention

Sports and Games

Games can be played to teach competition or cooperation. In Case 5, the Peace School’s basketball program identified how easily competitive violence can lead to abusive and violent behavior. It takes active mediation on the part of the teacher, coaches, and ideally fellow students to counter these pervasive trends. Hellison (1995), Henkel (1997), and Metzler (1990) explain how it is possible to use a competitive environment to teach cooperation and other forms of constructive conflict resolution. In particular, the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model used in the Case 3 programs was found to be a useful mediating force for both in-school physical education, and extended day programs.

Cooperative games were used in many of the programs as “ice-breakers” to establish positive group moods, or as specific methods for practicing collaborative problem-solving. Many of the programs cited Adventure Programming as effective extensions of this work. They cited the risk-taking involved as a way to access more vulnerable caring behaviors in students.

Excerpt from: Eddy, M. (1998). The role of physical activity in educational violence prevention programs for youth. Dissertation. Teachers College, Columbia University.

Chapter V, page 337

See Games and Sports Resources to find out more about the organizations/individuals cited in Martha’s dissertation research, and to learn more about how games and sports can used in facilitating and promoting peace.



  1. As a Movement /Physical Education teacher I can attest to the value of sports in Conflict Resolution that you referred to in your article “Using Movement Activities in Teaching Conflict Resolution”. (Eddy, Martha, The Fourth R. (92) Aug-Oct 13-14) Teaching sports (and warm up games) is the perfect opportunity to role model participation in community building via teamwork and sportsmanship. When a student makes a mistake and costs their team a point, I make sure to say,
    “good try”, addressing the student by name. The students learn to support their teammates as they would want to be supported, (instead of blaming ) and focus on bringing out the best in their teammates. This encourages students to take the necessary risks, and, as you stated in your article, “…builds a small and accountable community that feels comfortable appreciating each other”.
    Thank you, Martha, for the wonderful workshop “Conflict Resolution and Violence Prevention using Dance”.

    Miriam Barab

  2. In response to both the article “Using Movement Activities in Teaching Conflict Resolution”. (Eddy, Martha, The Fourth R. (92) Aug-Oct 13-14), and to Miriam, I agree that cooperation activities encourage teamwork, and community building. As a Physical Education Teacher, I often notice that children easily go back and forth from cheering on a classmate, to blaming them if a mistake is made. Teambuilding activities and sports create many teachable moments to increase positive interactions. An example that I see often in my class, is the way children scream out a person’s name with a negative tone when blaming them. I like to stop my class, and discuss the action that was taken. I ask how we can be more positive. After this, students are much more aware of their voices and how they use them. I then point out any positive communications that I hear, and if one particluar action stands out to me I will stop the class and have the students share what they said to each other.

  3. Thanks for this post, it’s useful for me
    i hope you tell us more about it in details
    luca8 – FIFA World Cup games

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