Does watching football lead to domestic violence?

Fascinating and sad article over at Slate. Check out Ray Fisman's article Illegal Contact: Does watching football lead to domestic violence?

Fisman reviews recent research that suggests that when the home team has a painful defeat we see an uptick in domestic violence, with angry male fans taking out their NFL frustration upon their wives. From Fisman's article:

Card and Dahl found that on Sundays during the regular season, losses by favored teams—that is, painful losses—are associated with an 8 percent increase in intimate partner violence. (For, say, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with a population of nearly 6.5 million, this translates into an extra seven incidents on a Sunday when the Patriots unexpectedly lose.) These extra cases appear in the hours immediately following the game—3 to 6 p.m. for games with a 1 p.m. start time, and 6 to 9 p.m. for those with a 4 p.m. start—further bolstering the case that postgame rage may take the blame. The spikes in violence are nearly twice as big in emotionally charged matchups between traditional rivals, like the annual Bears-Packers matchup, and also in games with lots of turnovers and penalties.
Awhile back, in a series about Freud, I wrote a bit about football as a cultural outlet for human aggression. That is clearly true, but what happens if that aggressive drive is frustrated? As when the home team loses? Freudians would expect that aggression to get displaced onto another target, perhaps the wife. This research appears to back up that analysis. Further, a Freudian would predict that the new object of aggression would be weak and "safe" target. Interestingly, this prediction is also supported by other research Fisman discusses:
In a study forthcoming in the American Economic Review, Aizer shows that potential female earnings are a critical determinant of spousal violence. Such violence declines as wages in female-dominated sectors—such as hospitality services—increase relative to male-dominated ones (e.g., construction). Aizer argues that high-earning women feel more empowered to walk out on potential abusers, since they're less dependent on a man's paycheck to get by. (Men will also be less inclined to chase away an extra breadwinner.)

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One thought on “Does watching football lead to domestic violence?”

  1. I don't think this proves anything, as it doesn't address whether there has been a history in these particular cases of domestic violence in the past. Do these couples have ONLY domestic violence when there is a football game? And then, even if not, how does one correlate FOR CERTAIN the domestive violence to the football team loosing...I think many such studies use "evidence based" studies to support what the investigators "want to see" or "prove".

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