Nick Bowman, associate professor of communications, co-authored the paper, “Trolligans: Conceptual Links Between Trolling and Hooliganism in Sports and Esports” with Christine L. Cook of National Chengchi University; Veli-Matti Karhulahti of University of Jyväskylä; and Guy Harrison of University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The paper was published in Communication & Sport.
Both game-based trolling and hooliganism have existed in some form since the inception of online gaming and professional sports respectively. The two share many characteristics: provocation of an opposing entity, the tendency to taunt or trash-talk others based on their social or individual identity, and disruptive and/or destructive behaviour. However, despite this and the increasing similarity between the worlds of traditional sports and esports, research on the two negatively perceived phenomena has remained largely separate. The present article aims to both link and distinguish the two types of behaviour in terms of what motivates them, the agents involved, and the spaces in which they take place. By drawing from communication theories and cases described as both hooliganism and trolling in professional sports and esports settings, we (a) refine the definition of trolling in light of hooliganism, (b) discuss practical implications for the future health of esports communities, and (c) explore deviance as inherent entertainment in mediatised sporting events. Suggestions for future collaborative research between trolling and hooliganism specialists are also included.