In the opening week of Euro 2016, there is a danger that the behaviour of fans, and the way it has been dealt with by EUFA and the police might overshadow the footballing achievements of teams on the pitch. Pictures of fans fighting, of others running scared, of flares thrown, of tear gas and baton charges shock and sadden the majority of us, sat at home waiting to watch 90 minutes of football. The initial response of authorities to these extreme behaviours; using violence to ‘prevent’ violence seems strange to behaviour management expert Paul Dix at Pivotal Education.
If the police use violence to disperse groups is it really a shock when those groups respond with violence? Of course not and behaviour management approaches such as those set out in the Five Pillars of Pivotal Practice address unwanted behaviour through changing the behaviour of adults in positions of authority and by training them to de-escalate and disrupt situations that may result in extreme behaviours.
“At Pivotal we recognise that in the schools and colleges we work with the behaviour of 95% of learners improves enormously in the first few months, but there are a small minority, around 5% who do not respond so quickly. We know this is normal – it takes longer to reach some learners than others.”
Yes, there will always be difficult behaviour to deal with but if we have a consistent and calm response to difficult behaviour, if we train people how to disrupt and de-escalate difficult situations, if we help people develop the language to deal with unwanted behaviour and if we recognise people for behaving the way would like everyone to behave then we can make a difference.
The threat from EUFA to expel national teams, for the behaviour of a minority of people over whom they exercise no direct control is also interesting for behaviour management expert Paul. Why do we insist on punishing everyone for the behaviour of the minority? Why, if we perpetuate a win at all costs culture on the pitch, are we surprised that fans replicate this in their behaviour? If managers, TV pundits and players equate players’ commitment to levels of aggression is it any wonder that fans behave in an aggressive manner?
At Pivotal we know there are a number of social and psychological factors at play and we need to develop counter-intuitive responses. We know that we are all influenced by our peers – this may go some way to explain the difference between the way large crowds of Rugby fans behave compared to Football fans. In France we may have seen people following the crowd and behaving in unwanted ways – but we can also influence people by focusing on the majority who behave well. If we focus on the positive, the behaviours we want to see, then these are the behaviours people replicate.
You can find out more about the Pivotal Approach and our Lift, Whoosh and Soar training packages on this website or by calling the Pivotal office on 020 70001735.