Is there a downside to great sporting events where the home team wins?

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For most sports fans, great games are the close ones—those between two evenly-matched opponents where the game remains undecided until the very end. Here, we examine a dark side to sporting events, the incidence of automobile fatalities (often due to game-related drinking), and ask whether the closeness of the game impacts the number of fatalities that occur. Two opposing predictions can be made. Close games may be highly engaging and inherently entertaining, thus decreasing drinking. Alternatively, close games may increase competition-associated testosterone that “spills-over” into aggressive, and potentially alcohol-impaired, driving. Using an eight-year, nationally-representative database of sporting events, we find that closer games are significantly correlated with more automobile fatalities, especially those involving alcohol. Importantly, increased fatalities are observed only in locations with high proportions of winning fans (game-site and winners’ hometown) congruent with a testosterone-based account. Ultimately, this finding has material consequences for public welfare on game-days and suggests one silver-lining for losing fans

Source: “The Bad Thing about Good Games: The Relationship between Close Sporting Events and Game-Day Automobile Fatalities” from Journal of Consumer Research

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