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NFL Upsets Could Trigger Domestic Violence
Date:3/22/2011

TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Reports of domestic violence rise an average of 10 percent in areas where local National Football League teams lose games they were expected to win, a new study says.

But the analysis of 900 regular-season NFL games found no decrease in police reports of male violence against wives or intimate partners after an unexpected win by a local team or when a local team lost a game that was expected to be close, said the researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

They said their findings, published March 22 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, suggest that unexpected disappointment may underlie men's loss of control and violent behavior.

"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," co-author David Card said in a journal news release.

He and colleague Gordon Dahl compared the pre-game betting odds to the game results of regular-season games for six teams -- Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans -- between 1995 and 2006.

When they matched this data to police records, they found that reports of male violence against a female partner spiked in areas where a local team lost a game it was favored to win. This increase was most pronounced in games considered to be more emotionally charged, said the researchers. For example, reports of domestic violence rose 20 percent after upset losses to a traditional rival, compared to 8 percent after an upset loss to a non-rival team.

The incidents occurred within a three-hour time frame, roughly equivalent to the last hour of the game and the two hours after it, the researchers found.

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