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What is it about football that makes people want to punch others in the face?

I came across a report from Sunday’s NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers detailing a disturbing fight among the fans of the rival teams. Warning: This is graphic. You may not want to watch.

The Cardinals and Niners are division rivals, so contests between the two are naturally more emotionally charged. As you can see in the video, it becomes a super-dangerous free-for-all, with security becoming involved (and one security officer being strangled) while they are simply trying to stop the melee. Bodies plummet down the rows of seats and then down concrete stairs, which are soon splattered with blood.

This is not an isolated event for the year, or even for the day. There was also a fight Sunday among Eagles fans during their game with the Redskins, and nobody was sure what that was even about. Reports say that an innocent bystander may have gotten the worst of it, which makes it that much more upsetting.

Connie, a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan from Kansas City, Missouri, shared that the escalating level of fan violence has personally impacted her. “[Violence] spills over affecting those fans like me, passionate dedicated fans who respect the game and have a love for the game,” she tells me. “I once felt comfortable and secure attending games, and completely enjoyed going, which I no longer do.”

There are so many more examples. Here are a few:
And then, you have truly tragic tales of serious crimes that are committed in what may be the heat of the moment, like the young man who was beaten to death outside Arrowhead Stadium late last year.

Just watching these videos gives me the heebie-jeebies because in the upper decks, it’s a sheer drop if you lose your footing under the best circumstances. Add a few tussling drunk fans and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. “I’ve had beer spilled on me when someone was intentionally throwing it on others sitting nearby,” Connie remembers. “I’ve been almost knocked over, as a result of fights breaking out in rows other than mine, angry people jumping over seats to get to the person they’re angry with.”

Most football fans don’t experience violence — it’s the exception, not the rule — but it’s scary when it happens. So, what is it about football that drives people to fight one another? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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