IT’S COMMON KNOWLEDGE that for many sports nuts, a defeat for their favourite team can often result in a ruined weekend or a temptation to drown their sorrows.
However, new research from the Quarterly Journal of Economics appears to have found that the implications of an unexpected defeat can be a lot more unsavoury than that.
In the March 2011 edition of the publication, a study conducted by David Card and Gordon Dahl suggests that there is a very noticeable correlation between “upset” defeats suffered by American football teams and rates of domestic violence in the surrounding area.
The academics analysed a sample of 900 regular-season NFL games which took place between 1995 and 2006, noting that calls to the police regarding domestic violence rose by 10% when these teams lost games which they were expected to win.
The study also suggested that incidences of domestic violence were likely to be even further increased in games which were seen to be particularly significant. Calls to the police rose by almost 20% after an upset loss to a traditional rival whereas there was an 8% increase after a shock loss to team not considered to be a rival.
Football fans also appear to act more violently following losses in important end-of season games, particularly if the team was still in contention to make the playoffs. “Our results suggest that the overall rise in violence between the intimate partners we studied is driven entirely by losses in games that matter most to fans,” said Card.
Although this particular research focuses exclusively on the emotions and actions of NFL fans, the researchers highlighted that their findings were in line with previous research which suggests that humans often react irrationally following unexpected surprises.
This is not limited to football. Someone who gets a speeding ticket on the way home, for example, might also be more likely to act out in a way he would later regret.