It's absolutely insane how much the reports of rape skyrocket during college football games

It's absolutely insane how much the reports of rape skyrocket during college football games

CultureDecember 29, 2015 By Isabelle Kohn

College football is the entertainment vehicle of choice for the millions of Americans who enjoy watching young men in tight pants chase each other around, but new data suggests the sport has a much darker, little-spoken about side. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research on the link between campus party culture and rape, college football games are linked to vastly increased rates of sexual assault.

Division I football games in particular seem to pose the highest risk; the study finds that games in that league “significantly increase reports of rape involving college-aged victims.” In that division, reports of sexual assault on game days by 17-24 year-olds increase by an average of 28 percent in the areas around the participating college. 

The drastic rise in assault is most significant during home games, which see a huge 41 percent surge on game days. Of that 41 percent, 61 percent of attacks are perpetrated by strangers, while 28 percent are by a person the victim knows.

Away games, on the other hand, seemed to be marginally safer. These saw a 15 percent increase in rape reports, a number largely driven by attacks by strangers.

Interestingly, this pattern contradicts national rape statistics: 82 percent of non-college-football rapes reported are committed by a close acquaintance or relative of the victim.

Similarly, upset wins increased reports of both rape and drunkenness, but upset losses did not influence rates of either. This seems to be fairly indicative that the rape epidemic associated with college football is fueled by the amount of drinking, drugging and dumb-assing that goes on during them.

 "Division I football games offer a clear instance [when] partying is intensified," said Montana State University’s Isaac Swensen, one of the report's authors.

Using local crime data and FBI data for their calculations, the study's researchers suggested that college football games cause between 253 and 770 additional rapes per year across the 128 schools participating in Division I. In essence, this means that those rapes might not have occurred if it weren't for the culture of rabid football debauchery at those schools.

“By providing convincing evidence that spikes in the degree of partying at a university escalate the incidence of rape, our results suggest that efforts to avoid such spikes could serve to reduce the incidence of rape,” the researchers wrote.

Right. Okay look, we're all for football and miscellaneous jock stuff, but people need to stop internalizing football to the degree that it negatively influences their lives. You see this when people become unnecessarily depressed or start riots when their team loses, as well as when the opposite occurs and a victory causes dangerously inflated egos and a maligned sense of indestructibility. In both situations, people tend to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with or enhance their football feelings, and they end up either hurting themselves or others.

That's stupid. So, so stupid.

Remember, jocks of the nation and overenthusiastic sports fans with team logo boxer briefs: It's just a game. It has no bearing on your life. There's no reason why the actions of 11 or so men in tights on TV should invade your personal judgment to such a degree that the mechanisms keeping you from raping someone should fade away. No win, loss or sport is worth the absolute personal destruction sexual assault wrecks on someone who just came to support their team.

This study is disturbing, and indicative of the continued prevalence of rape culture on college campuses — but we're glad people are talking about issues like this, especially in academia. We need to learn how to celebrate our frantic fandom responsibly, and it's unfortunate that it's taken hundreds of rapes per year to open the conversation thusly.