Sports

Can watching sports reduce crime? ‘Benefits may be substantial,’ UC Davis study says

Fans watch Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots on Feb. 4. The Eagles won their first championship with a 41-33 victory.
Fans watch Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots on Feb. 4. The Eagles won their first championship with a 41-33 victory. The Associated Press

Sports aren't just a form of entertainment or a reason to celebrate with friends and fans. When they're broadcast on TV, people cause less trouble, according to a study.

Research from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program showed that crime reports were down during sporting events, most notably the Super Bowl.

The study, which focused on the Chicago area, showed a 25 percent drop in crime during the Super Bowl and a 15 percent decrease on Mondays when the Bears were playing. Crime also dropped during NBA and baseball games, but at a smaller rate, according to the report.

“While we don’t know about idle hands, our article suggests that idle eyes are the devil’s playground,” said Hannah Laqueur, an assistant professor and researcher with UC Davis, in a news release. “Alternative leisure activities and entertainment can substitute for criminal activity, and the benefits may be substantial.”

Crime reports between 2001-13 from the Chicago Police Department were compared during times when the city's pro sports teams (Bears, NFL; Bulls, NBA; Cubs and White Sox, MLB) were playing, against when those teams were idle. The Blackhawks of the NHL weren't mentioned in the study.

“Perhaps if sporting events aired in the summer when reruns and second-rate programming is typically available, real crime savings could be generated,” Laqueur said.

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