Make The Connection

August 4, 2016 | By Ohio Wesleyan

Karson Stevenson ’16 traveled to Europe with an OWU-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant to study the behavior of soccer fans – a topic she plans to continue researching as a graduate student. (Photo courtesy of Karson Stevenson ’16)

Scoring Educational Goals

Student Uses Theory-to-Practice Grant to Study Sports Fan Behavior

Name: Karson Stevenson ’16
Majors: Psychology and Spanish
Minors: Exercise Science
Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Understanding the Trifecta of Alcohol-Induced Aggression: Sports, Alcohol, and Violence”

Ohio Wesleyan alumna Karson Stevenson ’16 traveled over the summer to the Netherlands, France, and England to explore the relationship between alcohol-induced aggression and sports-related violence.

Lessons Learned: “The original intention of this project was to examine alcohol’s influence on the fanatic football (European soccer) fans, referred to as “hooligans” and, while I was able to examine this correlation in detail, I discovered that there was far more to my initial theory than just cultural differences regarding alcohol.

My original trifecta model was accurate in recognizing that cognitive, environmental, and biochemical factors all contribute to violent actions undertaken by the somewhat fanatic football fans. However, all of the data I gathered while on this theory-to-practice trip support the idea that there is far more background influence over these violent actions than the majority of reports I’d read previously had led me to believe. The true culprits behind most of the aggressive actions that involve football fans are deep-rooted racial prejudices and intense social class disparities. …

“In total I was able to speak with seven experts, each providing an insightful and unique perspective that has helped me see this project for what it has become: an introductory examination into a much wider, area of international relevance. …

“If I learned anything from this trip (and I am proud to say I’ve learned enough to continue on with this research for years to come), it is that this social blight has far more to it than any one media outlet or research compilation is able to explain.”

The Value of Theory-to-Practice Experiences: “This experience has been one of the most incredible, life-changing events in my life. I have grown tremendously, both as an individual and as a scholar. I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity and contribute all my success to the incredible learning environment that is Ohio Wesleyan University.

“Several of the individuals I spoke with encouraged me to pursue this research even further, emphasizing that my current level of analysis already enables me to pursue a career in this field. … [T]he men I spoke with all encouraged me to finish this research as a dissertation or a thesis, explaining that their various organizations or universities would grant me a master’s degree in football analysis, thus allowing me to more aggressively examine alcohol and its varying effects across different teams and their fans, as well as to continue to formulate algorithms concerning the international effect of fan behaviors across countries. …

“[T]he relationships I’ve created while on this trip are already exposing me to areas of study and career opportunities that I never even imagined. I cannot thank Ohio Wesleyan University enough for allowing me to experience these unique, life-changing events. I am excited to see where my research takes me in the future.”