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Unexpected NFL losses linked to higher domestic violence reports

Unexpected NFL losses linked to higher domestic violence reports

Could a favorite NFL team’s performance impact the number of domestic violence calls a police department receives? According to a study by economists in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, it certainly may.

Researchers analyzed domestic violence calls recorded by 763 police departments across the United States. They discovered that NFL losses can cause a 10 percent increase in domestic dispute calls an hour or so following a local football team’s loss. They report that the number of domestic violence calls doubled when a home team lost to a traditional rival and spiked even higher when a favorite team lost during a playoff game.

Why are there more reports of domestic violence soon after a team’s loss? Researchers believe some people are more affected than others by transient factors, such as getting unexpected bad news. For example, if a favorite team loses unexpectedly, some people become extremely upset. That is when the domestic violence calls spike.

Interestingly, the number of domestic dispute calls did not increase when a team that was expected to lose actually lost. Also, when a team won unexpectedly, the number of calls did not change. Therefore, researchers concluded that a “loss is more emotionally salient if you were expecting to win, and therefore more mentally disturbing and likely to trigger a temper flare.” This is when they say some people may be more likely to act out against loved ones.

Based on the data used in the study, researchers said this trend seems to cut across racial and economic lines, applying to all different types of families.

Source: Time, “Fan Rage: How Home Team Losses Contribute to Domestic Violence,” Alice Park, 22 March 2011

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