Sports Results Impact Domestic Violence Rates

While many people may have thrown a pillow across the room after Joe Webb continued to fire passes into the dirt during the playoff loss to the Packers, a new study shows that some people may be more likely to take their rage out on their partner after a disappointing loss.

A report in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that NFL losses can result in a 10% increase in domestic violence reports within an hour of the final whistle.  Economists David Card and Gordon Dahl analyzed nearly 800 calls from over a half a dozen states during their research.  Their goal was to understand the factors that lead to domestic violence, which is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.

Dahl said that domestic violence usually occurs out of a short fit of rage, as opposed to a long-term desire to abuse another person.

“A lot of domestic violence doesn’t happen because people like to hit or control people,” says Dahl. “It seems like there is a role for some people basically losing their temper, and hitting an emotional cue that allows them to do something in the heat of the moment that they later regret. That’s where our paper comes in. It doesn’t excuse domestic violence or say that domestic violence is a good thing, but it does help us understand what we can do to help stop it.”

Findings from the report are fascinating for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.  Below are some of the findings.

  • Call volumes double if the team loses to a traditional rival or during a playoff loss.
  • There was a spike in domestic violence calls when a team was expected to win and lost, while there was no increase when a team was expected to lose and lost.
  • There was no beneficial effect of lower domestic violence when a team was expected to lose and won.
  • The spike in domestic violence was common across racial and economic lines.

In concluding their research, Card and Dahl found that managing your expectations can go a long way in curbing domestic violence.  Dahl added that the key wasn’t whether the team won or lost the game, but whether they won or lost unexpectedly.

“It doesn’t matter whether you lose the game, but it does matter in your emotional reaction when you lose the game when you thought your team was going to win,” he said.  “Upsetting bad news is really bad, and upsetting or unexpected good news is okay, but doesn’t have the same positive effect as unexpected bad news has on emotions.”

Both researchers believe the study was a step in the right direction, but they want to dig deeper to determine if other factors such as marriage length or job stress added to the likelihood of a domestic violence incident.

“All of these would be extremely interesting in learning more about who might be most vulnerable to this type of influence,” Card said.

Related source:  TIME

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Avery Appelman is a criminal defense lawyer and the founder of Appelman Law Firm. While his practice is primarily recognized for its work with DWI and related offenses, he has 16 years of experience working with clients on drug, assault, theft, traffic, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution charges.

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