Finally, A Positive Spin on the Pending NFL Lockout: Less Domestic Violence?

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm ET

NFL, The Rest

Frumped by

NFL lockout could result in less domestic violenceWhile not having a reasonable excuse for bailing on church and/or home improvement projects; losing Fantasy Football; and, of course, the collapse of the chicken wing industry are all, by all means, unsettling, at least we can take comfort in the fact that domestic life across the nation is apparently expected to improve should either party at the NFL bargaining table really decide to dig their heels in.

According to Medical Daily:

[A study from the Quarterly Journal of Economics has found] calls to the police reporting men’s assaults on their wives or intimate partners rose 10 percent in areas where the local National Football League team lost a game they were favored to win…

In contrast, co-authors David Card, Ph.D., and Gordon Dahl, Ph.D., found no decrease in reports of violence following an unexpected win by the local team or by the team’s loss in a game that was expected to be close.

The study’s authors believe their research confirms earlier work suggesting unexpected disappointments have a more profound emotional impact on us than pleasant surprises. Card and Dahl’s methodology included comparing pre-game betting odds for various NFL teams from 1995-2006.  They then matched the results and other data from those games with police reports filed in 763 police jurisdictions.

When a home favorite lost, the study found a corresponding spike in domestic violence reports in relevant jurisdictions relative to weeks the home team was on bye. Moreover, the researchers found an even more alarming connection to games in “higher stakes” games…

This pattern was most pronounced for losses the authors judged to be more emotionally charged. For example, the rise in police reports after upset losses to a traditional rival (20 percent) was about twice that after upset losses to a non-rival team (8 percent). Violence was also more likely to increase when the local team was still in playoff contention or had a particularly frustrating performance—suffering four or more sacks or turnovers or losing 80 or more yards to penalties. An analysis of the combined effect of these factors showed a 17 percent increase in reports of violence after an upset loss to a rival team while the local team was still in playoff contention.

Riveting stuff.

Not having examined the study, data, and methodology myself beyond that of Medical Daily’s report, I suppose I’ll just give Card and Dahl the benefit of the doubt for now. They do apparently point out that this phenomenon isn’t necessarily limited to NFL football, of course, so I don’t think anyone’s trying to further demonize the league (which is nice, I guess).

After alll, I suppose fans of NFL football are about as passionate as they come, and it’s not entirely far fetched to suggest a few too many beers, some anger management issues, and the failure of one’s favorite franchise could lead to some extremely poor decisions.

Here’s to hoping the zeal and fervor for America’s most popular sport — if/when we get it back — doesn’t continue to bring out the worst in us



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