Football Increases Domestic Violence: The Pigskin Makes Men Pigs


In 1993 a claim was made that Super Bowl Sunday was the biggest day of domestic violence against women; it has since been debunked as a myth. However, a recent study published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics might challenge this debunking.  The report, funded by the National Institute of Health, suggests domestic abuse does spike on game days, especially under certain circumstances. The study found when the home team experiences an upset loss (which is defined as when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points) there is a 10 percent spike in male-on-female domestic abuse.

While the research shows that there was a spike in violence on these days, it should be noted that the spike wasn’t nearly as high as those associated with major holidays (Fourth of July and Memorial Day for example), which was close to 22 percent. What do holidays and football Sundays have in common? Alcohol consumption. More than 100 million Americans tuned into the Super Bowl last February — that’s a lot of Americans watching TV together and getting drunk. Likewise, alcohol related arrests spike on major holidays like July 4th.

A major point of the study was for fans to manage their expectations of the game.  In a recent Huffington Post article, Dr. Jim Taylor, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco says “in dead seriousness, football fans need to get a grip and get a life.”  Maybe that’s a little harsh but he might have a point about “over identifying” with a home team.  Why do we get so attached to teams?  According to an article about sports psychology in the New York Times, ” Some researchers have found that fervent fans become so tied to their teams that they experience hormonal surges and other physiological changes while watching games, much as the athletes do….One theory traces the roots of fan psychology to a primitive time when human beings lived in small tribes, and warriors fighting to protect tribes were true genetic representatives of their people.”  Either way, if your temper is quick to flare, maybe step outside for a bit to cool down or clench your fists and count to ten — it’s just a game after all. Most importantly, if you find yourself getting too attached to a team, stay away from alcohol.

Domestic violence is serious problem; the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that 1.3 million women are victims of abuse by a partner each year.  Eighty-five percent of victims are women and 15 percent are men. If you or someone you know suffers from domestic abuse, you can get help.  Contact the Domestic Violence Resource Center; their staff is available at all times. Call their 24-Hour Crisis Line at (866) 469-8600.



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