Today in Sports-Induced Violence

Photo: Kashklick

Yesterday I wrote about the handful of studies that have been done showing that large sporting events do not lead to higher rates of hospital visits, or for that matter, deaths or public violence. The latest study comes from Canada, and shows that during the 2010 Olympic gold medal ice hockey match between the U.S. and Canada, emergency room visits declined by 17 percent in Canada. I thought it was a pretty good indication of how much Canadians love ice hockey, and also of the tranquility with which they seem to consume it. I imagined an entire country transfixed by the game on their TV sets, peacefully watching their countrymen defeat the world in their most-beloved sport.

But then I saw this: “Vancouver Fans Riot After Stanley Cup Loss“:

Rioting hockey fans clashed with police officers, set vehicles ablaze, smashed windows and looted stores and set several fires in downtown areas here on Wednesday night moments after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins.

Local hospitals reported eight people treated for stab wounds, according to Alyssa Polinsky, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health, the regional hospital authority.

Eight people stabbed!? And another 60 admitted to the ER for other injuries. Apparently, when it comes to hockey, Canadians aren’t so tranquil when they’re on the losing end. All it takes is a 4-0 beatdown in a Stanley Cup Game 7 on their home ice to unleash Vancouver’s inner soccer hooligan.

This outbreak of violence is consistent with a piece that Justin Wolfers wrote in 2008, on a study looking at public violence on college football game days, specifically the point that upset losses by the home team have a particularly large effect on violent assaults, while expected losses have little effect.

This seems to indicate that all the research showing no increase in hospital visits and public violence after sporting matches needs a big asterisk next to it that says: Applicable only if the home team wins.

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  1. Ross says:

    “This seems to indicate that all the research showing no increase in hospital visits and public violence after sporting matches needs a big asterisk next to it that says: Applicable only if the home team wins.”

    No Way! Maybe if these economists spent more time experiencing life with the normal population, they wouldn’t have been surprised by this revelation that sporting fans have known for decades. People also don’t like getting tickets from a speed trap.

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  2. Eoin O'Riordan says:

    I know the article may not be that statistically rigorous, but it certainly seems that Glasgow isn’t the place to be on a Rangers Celtic match day.

    “The average number of domestic abuse incidents on non Old Firm match days is 123. On Old Firm days that number rises to 173.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8036197.stm

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/domestic-violence-surges-after-old-firm-games-police-reveal-1.905622

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  3. Bart says:

    This also happened in Vancouver in ’94 when they lost the Cup. Which explains their tourism motto, “Gracious hosts, self-destructive losers.”

    In ’93, Montreal won the Cup at an away game, but had the quiet dignity to have a celebratory riot in Montreal rather than a “loser” riot in their host city.

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  4. Doug says:

    What I don’t understand is the rioting aspect of this. We have seen the fans of winning teams riot over and over again through the years. What we don’t see is a losing riot like the one in Vancouver (not their first, by the way). I can understand that violent crime, especially domestic crime, rises after a loss. But why is it that only Vancouver seems to fall into a full-blown public riot after losing? It can’t be that they have never won. By that logic, Cubs fans should have burned the city to the ground after failing to capitalize on a 3-1 NLCS series lead in 2003. For that matter, Mavs fans should have torched Dallas in 2006 after losing to the Heat (nice revenge this year, BTW) in the NBA Finals. Are Vancouver fans somehow trying to prove that they are more committed by rioting? Beautiful city, ugly fans.

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  5. Ian M says:

    I think that the loss is good for the NHL. How many Canadians watch hockey with the dream of seeing the cup return to Canada?

    I prefer not to give a rat’s ass.

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  6. caleb b says:

    Couch burning and Ohio State football – i’m pretty sure that goes on win or lose.

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  7. Jason Collins says:

    How many stab wounds are treated on a normal Wednesday night in Vancouver?

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  8. GavinW says:

    The majority of the 100,000 hockey fans (or however many they are calling it now) that were downtown watching the game in the arena and on outdoor big screens left the downtown core when they could. A dedicated minority used the anonymity and apathy of a giant crowd of drunken, discouraged hockey fans to incite and participate in violence. If you watched the coverage you would have seen hockey fans protecting The Bay on Georgia St (the people inside the store with their mouths and noses covered using fire extinguishers to chase people out of the store after the windows were broken) and try to de-escalate the situation by quieting the violent minority as they were trying to confront the crowd control police. When all of those fans left the violent minority had free reign and the police stepped up the force of their response.

    Anyhow, my view of the situation is there was a small core of people that wanted to participate in violence and they happened to use the anonymity provided by a large crowd of people cheering for a hockey team.

    Videos:
    The protectors of The Bay. Ignore what the reporter says, he’s wildly wrong but this was early in the night. Later they showed clips of those people chasing looters out of the store.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-qCats9sBo
    I cannot find a video of the guys trying to de-escalate the situation but there were many situations where someone would try to incite the police to retaliate and people in the crowd would pull them back and try to make them stop.
    And to end it off with some humor…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5aaxWub89k

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