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New research suggests football game days are associated with a 28 percent increase in reports of rape.

Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

In a joint paper, researchers Jason M. Lindo, Peter M. Siminski, and Isaac D. Swensen gathered data on game days, wins, and losses from Division 1 colleges, and victimization statistics from the National Incident Based Reporting System to investigate the relationship between reports of sexual assault and football games. 

The researchers found that football game days are associated with a 28 percent increase in rapes reported by women between the ages of 17 and 24, with home games increasing reports by 41 percent, and away games 15 percent. Upset wins appeared to be correlated with increases in rape reports while upset losses did not; upset wins were also correlated with increased arrests for drunkenness, DUIs, and other liquor law violations. 

That reports of rape and citations and arrests for alcohol-related offenses rise with upset football wins is no coincidence, the researchers claim. They hypothesize that altered behavioral conditions associated with upset wins (and football-related partying in general) both contribute to and exaggerate alcohol consumption, which has “direct pharmacological effects on aggression and cognitive functioning.” Football itself therefore isn’t the problem, but rather the culture of excessive, permissive partying that sometimes accompanies major football programs, and is especially aggravated by surprise victories. 

Along with the human toll of rape and sexual assault, the researchers also sought to demonstrate what the increase in assaults means for communities monetarily per year: 

Back Based on an estimated social cost of $267,000 per rape (McCollister et al. 2010), this implies an annual social cost of rapes caused by Division 1A games between $68M and $205M.