Sports fans are generally an exuberant bunch — and emotions surrounding a favorite team and a big game can run pretty high. It’s not really a shock when there’s a news report about sports fans rioting in the streets somewhere after a major upset.
What might shock you, however, is how common it is for domestic violence incidents to surge at the same time. According to several studies on domestic violence, there’s a distinct link between important sporting events and reports of domestic abuse.
The phenomenon isn’t particular to the United States, either. One study indicated that reports of domestic abuse in the United States shot up about 10 percent every time a local team lost a game, but the situation may even be worse elsewhere.
For example, a study in England showed that there were 38 percent more incidents of domestic abuse after the nation’s soccer team lost a match — and 26 percent more incidents after its team won! In Canada, a domestic abuse hotline had 15 percent more calls every time the local sports team was even playing.
Given that many incidents of domestic abuse never get reported at all, that’s probably only a glimpse into how bad the situation really gets. While researchers are quick to point out that sports and a passionate feeling about a specific team don’t cause domestic violence, the link is there.
In reality, domestic abusers generally suffer from poor impulse control and a desire to assert their authority over their victims. Watching a favorite game — even on TV — can produce a lot of adrenaline and emotions. Abusers may simply respond by channeling all that excess energy toward their victim. When their favorite team does badly, they end up taking out their frustrations on their victims because that’s the only way they feel like they are in control.
It’s important to understand that nothing gives someone the right to abuse another person — not a bad day at work, not a flat tire on the car and certainly not a bad game. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, a temporary restraining order can often give you the space that you need to break the cycle and move on.