National Research Shows Spikes in Sexual Assaults on College Game Days

Jan 11, 2016

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will face off tonight in college football's title game. College football has become a popular pastime for students, but new research from Texas A&M University suggests there’s a downside to game day: an increase in sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.

To say college football is a big deal around these parts would be a sizeable understatement.  The culture surrounding the games: bands, cheerleaders, food, national media coverage and partying, is enough to fill nearly every autumn Saturday in Austin and other college towns nationwide. But Texas A&M professor of economics and lead researcher Jason Lindo says there’s something much more unsettling happening on those Saturdays.

“These college football games which are known to significantly increase alcohol consumption and partying increase the incidence of rape reports by 41 percent for home games and 15 percent for away games,” Lindo say.

Lindo says Saturday is a day when rape reports spike in general, but the 41 percent increase is over and above what might be a typical among college-aged victims between the ages of 17 and 24. Lindo and two other researchers published the findings late last month with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

He says that the football games are associated with 243 to 746 additional rapes per year across the 128 schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, commonly known as Division 1A.

The data points to an even worse trend if your college was not supposed to win the game.

“Upset victories significantly increase the reports of rape more so than a typical game day,” Lindo says.

He and his colleagues analyzed 22 years of FBI crime statistics from the agency’s National Incident Based Reporting System. They compared game day data to reports on non-game days. They also controlled for differences across different days of the week and times of the year.

Also in the findings: a social economic cost of between $68 million dollars and roughly $206 million a year, as the “societal cost” of each case costs an estimated $267,000.