Football Game Days and Sexual Assaults

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Football plays a big role on college campuses. Games attract thousands of visitors, with the potential to generate new revenues for the community. Ads boasting of the university’s academic successes will frequently accompany a team’s television appearance.

But, the outcomes are not all positive. College game days are also met with traffic congestion, destruction of property, and the prevalence of underage drinking.

Jason Lindo, of Texas A&M University, and his colleges recently identified another negative outcome of the athletic contests: an increase in sexual assaults.

Drawing from a variety of datasets, the authors collected 10 years of data. They accounted for a number of variables, including characteristics of the university and the athletic program, when the games were played, and if they were played at home or away.

They found that reports of rape victimization among 17 to 24 year old women increased 28 percent on college game days. Where the team played also mattered. During home games, reports of rape increased 41 percent. The effects were most prominent among the larger Football Bowl Subdivision teams, like those in the SEC or Big Ten.

There are a score of physical and emotional costs associated with sexual assault. The authors also examined the monetary costs. Based on a social cost of $267,000 per case, the authors estimated that the increase in rape cases during the football season came at a cost of $193 million.

The research team suggests that partying is largely to blame for the findings. To bolster their claims, they noted that game days are associated with a spike in alcohol-related crimes.

Given these findings, the authors suggest game-day policies need to be revisited, including the prevalence of alcohol in and around stadiums. Education efforts about alcohol and sexual assault should increase, as well.