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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.