June 23, 2014

Be a Good Sport:
Don't worry, guys, sporting events in the US still don't trigger more domestic violence.

It's an oft-repeated tale--the cowed wife who finds herself the victim of her husband's fury at the loss of his beloved team on Super Bowl Sunday. After over 20 years, the story continues to circulate, despite being debunked several times over.

Even looking at it as just a statistic, without any knowledge of the study behind it, I find it hard to believe. You see, we are football fans. There's a 1 in 16 chance that our team will make it to the Super Bowl in any given year. They have not, actually, in the time that I've been a fan--which is nearly a decade now. The chances that I will be that emotionally connected to the teams playing, then, is also 1 in 16. I find it difficult to believe that men (or women) are so tied up in a game that they have little connection to that the outcome will incite them to violence.

Now, I know that sports games can cause violence. Living in South Carolina, of course, our huge rivalry is the Clemson vs Carolina game every year...and yes, people die after the game. People get angry. People talk smack. Things get out of control and people make terrible decisions.

But the Super Bowl? I think not.

I was interested to see that the UK is experiencing similar headlines right now. A study by Lancaster University has shown that, apparently, domestic violence after England wins is high, and that it is even higher after it loses. When it ties, however, it holds steady or drops.

Apparently, it's not just the losses that send people into rages--it's also the wins.

I can't say whether the UK has the same faulty data circulating that we do, but these findings are at least similar to those found in the study that set off the Super Bowl frenzy. As Ken Ringle explained in "Debunking the 'Day of Dread' for Women; Data lacking for claim of domestic violence surge":
     But when asked about that assertion, Janet Katz, professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion and one of the authors of that study, said "that's not what we found at all. "     One of the most notable findings, she said, was that an increase of emergency room admissions "was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general, nor with watching a team lose." When they looked at win days alone, however, they found that the number of women admitted for gunshot wounds, stabbings, assaults, falls, lacerations and wounds from being hit by objects was slightly higher than average. But certainly not 40 percent.    "These are interesting but very tentative findings, suggesting what violence there is from males after football may spring not from a feeling of defensive insecurity, which you'd associate with a loss, but from the sense of empowerment following a win. We found that significant. But it certainly doesn't support what those women are saying in Pasadena," Katz said.
 There are a few reasons that this study should never have been generalized nationally to begin with. The biggest reason is that it was obviously misrepresented, and twisting data unrecognizably to support your point is disgusting.

Beyond that, though, this focused on a very small region, which is hardly a sample I would apply to the entire nation. Washington also has a very strong and loyal fanbase (ahem! like us). It doesn't surprise me to find people are emotionally connected to the team, especially on its home turf. I would, however, be surprised to find that many people invested in the Super Bowl, as I mentioned above.

So perhaps England struggles after their football matches, but we're still good after ours. Or at least, the major one.

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