Deviant Behavior

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Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting: Analysis of
Criminal Behavior During the SEC Football Season

Ashley Coker-Cranney, Chelsea B. Wooding, Megan Byrd & Peter L. Kadushin

To cite this article: Ashley Coker-Cranney, Chelsea B. Wooding, Megan Byrd & Peter L.
Kadushin (2016): Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting: Analysis of Criminal Behavior During the
SEC Football Season, Deviant Behavior, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2016.1197036

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Morgantown.DEVIANT BEHAVIOR http://dx. Moreover. Madensen and Eck 2008). The current study examined the relationship between Accepted 22 February 2016 criminal behavior and college football game days. and increased willingness to commit violent acts following a team loss (Wann et al. 2005). Kadushinc West Virginia University. the environment of the sporting event (e. Spaaij 2008) and criminal behavior (Rees and Schnepel 2009). Colorado. Results provide insight to more effectively allocate resources. Smith 1976). have shown a connec- tion between sporting events and an increase in violence (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012. Rees and Schnepel 2009) have examined the effect of football spectator- ship on nonviolent fan behavior. athletes.g. West Virginia University. the present study seeks contribute to the literature by presenting an understanding of contributors to both violent and nonviolent fan behavior. Ideally. Ph. athletes.g. cWestern State Colorado a University.. M. Ashley. studies have found connections between various sporting events and gang-like behavior (Spaaij 2008). and others is immense (Russell 2004).g. fire.. and other emergency service departments might be able to better prepare their personnel for effective prevention tactics to keep everyone—fans. USA. Ward 2002). Box 6116 Morgantown. research has started to examine the connection between sport and violence. scientific research.1197036 Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting: Analysis of Criminal Behavior During the SEC Football Season Ashley Coker-Cranneya..D.O.1080/01639625. Thus. USA ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Evidence suggests that live sporting events may lead fans to engage in Received 15 June 2015 criminal behaviors. police.CokerCranney@mail. bChicago. Researchers note that fan violence has not been examined nearly as much by scientific research as it was by popular media (e. USA. Over the past few years. Woodingb.07. WV 26506. and themselves—safe. domestic violence (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012). CONTACT Ashley Coker-Cranney.g. an archival newspaper article analysis indicated that fans might exhibit a desire to “join in” by engaging in violence with an opposing fan when members of the fan’s team physically fought with an opposing player (Smith 1976). However.001). Contributors to spectator violence currently noted in the literature include: on-field violence (e. and Peter L.doi. Archival data of criminal offenses were collected from Southeastern Conference member institution police departments to analyze reported criminal offenses during the regular season. and first responders (Suggs 2003).org/10. For instance. officials. the expense of preventing and controlling violence and/or criminal behavior by universities. Both outcomes may lead to property damage and injuries of other fans. popular media and. more recently. USA. Department of Sport and Exercise Psychology.wvu.2016. Multilevel linear models revealed an increase in criminal behavior. Bech 1994. A better understanding of the relationship between sporting events and crime could help these communities more effectively allocate funds. © 2016 Taylor & Francis . Unfortunately. fans of all sports would be able to watch their team and celebrate a win or mourn a loss without violating laws or the safety of others. Therefore. stories of violence and criminal behavior related to sport and fan behavior have flooded mainstream media and research journals alike. Gunnison. West Virginia. fewer studies to date (e.. p < . 9142) = 20. Illinois. A factorial ANOVA indicated an interaction of team rankings and game out- come was related to specific types of criminal behavior in the host city (F (1. coaches.S. With the call to action for a better understanding of fan aggression. In addition. P. Chelsea B. Megan Byrda.

event duration. That is. especially if the out-group is considered a rival. research has found that the vicarious experience of watching a sporting event leads to significant increases in arousal. COKER-CRANNEY ET AL. To understand how the nature of the sport. According to the Self-Esteem Maintenance Model (Wann 1993). Fans’ willingness to injure the opponent to help their team is then . research has also supported the importance of environmental factors surrounding the fans and sporting events in predicting spectator behavior. especially for those who strongly identify with the losing team (Branscombe and Wann 1992).. if a team loses and a spectator highly identifies with that team.g. For example. report higher levels of sports media intake than low dysfunctional fans. it is likely that vicarious experience can prompt fan aggression. research indicates that the relationship between fans that result in “ingroup” versus “outgroup” comparisons may lead to increased antagonism. and individual factors (e. even in the absence of personal experience or objective level of aggression within the sport. Research has supported the connection between violence modeled by significant others and other environmental factors. crowd demographics.g. combined with environ- mental factors that contribute to spectator violence in stadiums (e. Zillmann 1983). however. Thus. he is more likely to commit a criminal act in an effort to maintain his identity as a legitimate fan for that team and avenge perceived wrongs. causing them to feel highly identified as a member of that ingroup. violence modeled by players. Further. Lee 1985. alcohol availability. These contributing factors may converge to increase the likelihood of fan violence and criminal behavior surrounding sporting events. Therefore. crowding. stadium location. believe that alcohol consumption is a necessary element of game experience. Wakefield and Wann 2006). spectators are likely to engage in violent behavior in an effort to preserve their self-concept following the performance of their team. several theories have been introduced. noise level. have witnessed the reinforcement of violent acts of similar others. Smith (1976) found that 76% of incidents of crowd violence were preempted by player-on-player violence. social dysfunction leads to other forms of aggressive behavior and violence (Bech 1994). the environment of college football game days may reinforce ingroup/outgroup comparisons and attract highly dysfunc- tional fans. provides an aggressive prime for individuals to see others as hostile. and attend more games than low dysfunctional fans (Wakefield and Wann 2006). A substantial body of evidence links physiological arousal and frustration-generated aggression (Berkowitz 1989. These perceptions of self-worth then lead highly identified fans to be more willing to go to great lengths to assist their team. physiological arousal (Branscombe and Wann 1992). inadvertently encouraging antisocial behavior. In particular. Social Learning Theory indicated that individuals are most likely to commit violence if they have witnessed violent acts. Overall. although research specific to criminal behavior is sparse. To more specifically address environmental influences on fan behavior. Wann and Branscombe (1990) found that when participants were presented with words related to aggressive sports as a primer they were more likely to interpret ambiguous actions as more hostile and more likely to endorse aggressive actions. and hostility (Lee 1985). which can influence individual perceptions of others’ hostility. Thus. aggres- sive language.2 A. and have been reinforced. team reputation. seating arrange- ments. Self-esteem has been found to be positively related to degree of identifica- tion with a sports team (Branscombe and Wann 1991). Madensen and Eck 2008. prejudice. such as against a rival or a championship game (Wann 1997). performance quality. That is. the environment. Additionally.. temperature. The drive to commit a criminal act in the face of a team loss is especially high if the game has high perceived importance. event significance. and individual factors interact to encourage spectator violence. Wann and colleagues (2005) indicate that an increase in violence by spectators may be linked to fan identification with a specific team. from individual fouls to bench clearing brawls. highly dysfunctional fans were much more likely to report increased criticism of referees after a perceived wrong call. a fan’s perceived self-concept is enmeshed within the team. even to the point of injuring an opposing player or coach (Russell and Baenninger 1996). Wann and Branscombe 1990). For instance. Based on this model. Social Learning Theory might provide an adequate explanation of spectator violence after fans witnessed violence at a sporting event. for committing similar violent acts (Bandura 1978). themselves.

the relationship between violent and/or criminal behavior related to collegiate football and sport-specific factors such as game outcome. however. an . Ohio State University beat rival University of Michigan in football. further research is required in this area to draw definitive conclusions. the University of Kentucky Wildcats won the National Championship and 15. For instance. For instance.000 students and fans took to the streets of Lexington in a celebratory riot. and destruction were reported (The New York Times 2002). It could also be explained via a continuum ranging from low to high identified. a dozen arrests. it provides a convincing context to study violent and/or criminal spectator behavior. In an attempt to understand these types of behaviors. and (c) the SEC is historically very competitive with a very dedicated fan base. and one person shot by a fellow rioter (Kindelan 2012). and first responders (Suggs 2003). one might expect a similar finding with nonviolent criminal behavior such that highly identified spectators willing to commit nonviolent criminal acts in an effort to preserve self-esteem and avenge perceived wrongs. fans from Florida. Hennessy and Schwartz 2007. DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 3 exacerbated if it can be committed anonymously (Wann. the latter is merely speculation. and attracts young men with high team identification to the stands. and competitive nature of opponent has received little attention. (b) five of the top 25 rivalries in college sport are housed in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Wann et al. In 2003. researchers have recommended a deeper examination of the trends in North American fan behavior since many studies focus on other countries (Wakefield and Wann 2006). 2003. an environment that encourages excitement as well as disappointment and ingroup/outgroup comparisons. although more research is necessary to better understand other game-related variables that may relate to criminal behavior and the types of criminal behavior most often demonstrated. thus more data. Without such information. During the collegiate football season. but many investigators examined the perceptions of fans rather than actual fan behavior (Donahue and Wann 2009. illustrating a clear gap in the literature. and sensation-seeking (Russell and Arms 1998). 2003). Carlson. arrests. the first purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between criminal behavior and college football game days in a large. Finally. Specifically. 2003). indicating that fans most likely to act violently are young. injuries. Although the Rees and Schnepel (2009) study was a good first step to fill the aforementioned gap. single men (Wann et al. Similar victory celebrations at other universities have also quickly turned into riots where fires. a cursory glance at popular media outlets provides copious examples of inappropriate and dangerous fan behavior. Other research supports previous findings. research indicates that involvement in fights was predicted by reported levels of anger. Division I conference located in the Southeastern part of the United States.. ranked or not ranked). the areas surrounding Ohio State University were soon in near havoc with students starting numerous fires (Suggs 2003). understanding the connection between sport and criminal behavior remains limited. impulsivity. The result was over 40 fires. previous research in collegiate sport indicates that wins or losses at home and upsets led to increases in criminal incidents (Rees and Schnepel 2009). athletes. competitive nature of team (i. self-reported tendencies might not accurately reflect future behavior given that “there are invariably more bullshitters than fighters” (Williams 1991:25). Although not currently addressed in the literature. 1999). Young 2002) with high team identification (Donahue and Wann 2009. thus. Previous literature has provided valuable information. Fan violence and criminal behavior can lead to property damage and injuries of other fans. given that college football sporting events provide the modeling of aggressive behavior on the field. research has lacked adequate exploration of the link between criminal behavior and collegiate football games until recently (Rees and Schnepel 2009). Wann et al. further research is needed to more fully explain the link between college football and criminal behavior. Therefore. including the number one rivalry (Rappoport and Wilner 2007). injuries. Additionally. Unfortunately. Subsequently. This particular conference was chosen because: (a) it is a large conference with 14 teams that produces more game days. In fact. such that higher identified fans may be more likely to commit a violent crime whereas lower identified fans might be more likely to commit nonviolent crimes.e. and Schrader 1999) and if it is believed to help their team succeed (Wann et al. However. officials. in 2012. with the current lack of research on nonviolent criminal behavior and sport.

COKER-CRANNEY ET AL. to 11:59:59 p. Data was collected on the frequency of specific offenses. Therefore. City and campus police departments for each school in the SEC were contacted via e-mail or phone communication to make an open records request. Methods Study design and data collection Archival data were collected to analyze the frequency and trends of reported criminal offenses in the home cities of member universities in the SEC during the 2012 college football regular season. representing 11 of the 14 SEC schools. game outcome. The study addressed two main research questions. offender. For each department. To establish interrater reliability. resulting in 2. Due to the exploratory nature of this study and sparse existing research. According to the NIBRS. described the importance of their attendance at football games as “not just sitting watching a football game” (Gibson. ranked or unranked home team. and community. After reviewing a sample (one school) of the data. and Holdnak 2002:398). Seventeen of those departments. Assuming that different schools have different cultures. attending Gator games meant spending time with family. where incident data is available for group A offenses and arrest data are available for group B offenses. game location. is there a change in the type of criminal offenses reported on college football game days compared to non-game days? Second.4 A.m. as well as participating in a storied tradition and upholding the reputation of the university.m. 244) = 2917. all five researchers input one month’s worth of data for the same non-SEC Division I school with 333 total incidents for comparison. or arrestee was collected.998 (F (56. especially when the team won at home. 2012 time period. a hypothesis for the first research question was that criminal behavior would increase on college football game days. ranked or unranked opponent) are associated with changes in overall reported criminal offenses? Further.e. friends. archival data was obtained. which was entered by one of the four authors or one research assistant. although it .. The NIBRS is a national database overseen by the FBI and part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. therefore. what game-related variables (i. Willming.001). First. Procedure Institutional Review Board approval for the collection of secondary. Intraclass correlations revealed acceptable interrater reliability at ICC = . Rather. p < . with the exception of a category labeled “domestic” that was created to compare present findings to previous research findings on reports of domestic abuse during the 2009 World Cup in England (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012). Criminal behaviors were categorized according to the criminal offense categories of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Incidence-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) database. is there a difference in frequency of criminal offenses reported by local police departments on college football game days compared to non- game days? If so. offenses are also categorized as either A or B offenses (see Table 1).091 total days’ worth of data. Days were defined as 12:00:00 a. Once acceptable interrater reliability was established. victim. SEC school. provided adequate data to be included in the analysis.936. Consenting departments then provided the data. 2012 to December 15. Data were collected from campus and city police departments of SEC member institutions using public records. a total of 123 observations were collected. finding a natural break between criminal behaviors varied by up to eight hours between non-game days and game days. no identifying information including property. does the significance of game-related variables differ with specific types of criminal offenses? Given the Rees and Schnepel (2009) findings. finding a natural break for each would further compound the data by introducing an inconsistency in reporting between schools. All 28 city police departments and campus police departments were contacted. A second purpose of the current study was to examine specific game-related variables (Madensen and Eck 2008) associated with criminal behavior on college football game days. frequency data were collected for each of the criminal offenses reported for public record in participating SEC member institution home cities on each day during the August 15. resulting in a 61% response rate. additional hypotheses were not offered.

and Sundays (n = 2. wire fraud) (11) Gambling offenses (i. welfare fraud.07%) of those game occurring on a Saturday and the remaining eight games played on Thursdays (n = 2. Specific game-related variables of interest included the location of the game (i. 1%).e. game outcome (i. theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories. These variables were analyzed in association with the dependent variables: total criminal offenses reported. simple assault.e. pocket-picking. and resulting criminal behavior. gambling equipment violations. or neutral).. statutory rape) (21) Stolen property offenses (22) Weapon law violations Group B (1) Bad checks (2) Curfew/loitering/vagrancy violations (3) Disorderly conduct (4) Driving under the influence (5) Drunkenness (6) Family offenses. all other larceny) (15) Motor vehicle theft (16) Pornography/obscene material (17) Prostitution offenses (i. sexual assault with an object. false pretenses/swindle/confidence game. could extend past the midnight cut time. theft from building. theft from coin-operated machine or device.e... specific NIBRS categories of offenses reported.. and the additional category. aggravated assault.e. .e. with 196 (96.e. a total of 204 games were played. negligent manslaughter.e.. drug equipment violations) (8) Embezzlement (9) Extortion/blackmail (10) Fraud offenses (i. NIBRS groupings and categories.e. a midnight cutoff time was determined to be the most appropriate. For standardization of data across days and across schools.e..e. murder and nonnegligent manslaughter. opponent ranking. “domestic” to include domestic assault/battery offenses. nonviolent (7) Liquor law violations (8) Peeping tom (9) Runaway (10) Trespass of real property (11) All other offenses was possible that social activities. away. justifiable homicide) (13) Kidnaping/abduction (14) Larceny/theft offenses (i. theft from motor vehicle. betting/wagering. prostitution. assisting or promoting prostitution) (18) Robbery (19) Sex offenses. it was impossible to establish a natural cutoff time for each day that was consistent across schools. Group A (1) Arson (2) Assault offenses (i. sports tampering) (12) Homicide offenses (i. For the entire sample. DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 5 Table 1. intimidation) (3) Bribery (4) Burglary/breaking and entering (5) Counterfeiting/forgery (6) Destruction/damage/vandalism of property (7) Drug/narcotic offenses (i. group A and group B offenses. nonforcible (i. 2%). 1%). purse-snatching..e. impersonation. forcible (i. win or loss) and previous game outcome. drug/narcotic violations. home. Fridays (n = 4. forcible fondling) (20) Sex offenses. Data were collected to retrospectively analyze how college football game days were related to reported criminal offenses. incest.. operating/promoting/assisting gambling. shoplifting. current host team ranking. forcible sodomy.... forcible rape. credit card/automatic teller machine fraud.

As a first step. 11) = 26.80) increase. 45.24) versus non-game day Saturdays (M = 22.53% (n = 108) of Saturday observations.36 reported criminal incidents) was significant.. was in fact associated with increased criminal behavior and further analysis was warranted. the use of multilevel linear modeling (MLM). p < . SD = 27.36) increase in reported criminal behavior on college football game days.18) was significant (F (1.25. each school covaried by city population. For the entire sample. outcome.091 days’ worth of data.231. Games were not played on 35. N = 2091) to account for covariances in city population. accounting for large sample sizes with few parameters (Field 2009). a regression-based techni- que.17.200 total criminal offenses were reported over the 2. school population)..97 p < .04). variables related to weekend versus weekday) could be controlled and the true effect of game day could be observed. rather than variables related to day of the week. p < . Because data were nested by school (i. but the slopes did not vary across cases (var(u1j) = 18. 2012 to December 15.31. 2012. Multilevel linear modeling is desirable for these analyses given that it is robust to unequal cell sizes and controls for nested effects (Tabachnick and Fidell 2007).04).01). school was entered as a nesting variable (F (1. p = . the grand mean for all criminal behaviors was calculated for the entire sample (t = 5. examining non-game day versus game day Saturdays provided a measure of control. was necessary to determine an accurate picture of the data.6 A. COKER-CRANNEY ET AL. For some schools.. see Formula 1 for best fit model equation). itself. Model fit for MLM was assessed using Schwarz’s Bayesian Criterion (BIC) as it is more conservative than the –2 log-likelihood. χ2 (1) = -5. average city income. Subsequently.e.e.001). Multilevel linear modeling was also used in subquestion one. whereby possible confounders (e. χ2 (1) = 803.74. the difference indicated an average 40. opponent rank status. maximum = 89).09. A factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to examine specific game-related variables associated with criminal behavior. multilevel linear modeling was performed. ANOVA and factorial MANOVA were desirable over linear and multiple regression given that predictor variables (i. SD = 23. average city income.79 (SD = 20. maximum = 130). statistical analyses included multilevel linear models to answer the first research question and subquestion.92.001. it should be noted that although total . and the slopes and intercepts did not significantly covary (var(u0j. p > .21% (M difference = 8. ! " ! " Formula1 : Yij ¼ 21:090 þ 211:74oj þ 8:261 Xij þ 309:18ij Practically. Results indicated that the intercepts varied across cases (var(u0j) = 211. this increase was much higher. on game days. p > .15 (SD = 27. addressing research question two and a factorial multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) addressed subquestion two. where separate multilevel linear models were generated for each of the specific NIBRS categories. 2888) = 4.36. However.80. and school population. which occurred given that the number of non-game days far exceeded the number of game days during the period of this investigation and that the data covaried by city population. indicating that the difference in reported criminal behavior between college game days and non-game days was significant and was nested by school (Wald Z = 2. Data analysis To understand the nature of the relationship between college football game days in the SEC and incidents of criminal behavior. the mean was 29. average income. The mean criminal incidents reported for any given day of the week that was not a game day for the entire sample was 20. rather than continuous (Field 2009).14% (M difference = 24. Alternate models were then created to test whether intercept and/or slope variance improved the model. χ2 (1) = -7.26. Although not ideal. game location) were categorical. This finding indicated that the game. up to a 97. Results Three hundred and four Saturday observations were made during the time period of August 15. and school population.05). u1j) = 18. An ANOVA of criminal behavior on game day Saturdays (M = 28. To determine if the mean difference (8.g. p = .

276 1. destruction offenses. *Significant at p < . a factorial ANOVA was initially run to determine what game day variables contributed to differences in criminal behavior on college Table 2.001** 5 13. fraud offenses.11 69. teams that traditionally rank higher in national polls tend to have larger stadiums and are able to seat more spectators than teams that do not traditionally rank highly in national polls. School M non-game day M game day % increase F df. see Table 2). 2.47 31.48. To investigate the effect of college football game days on specific criminal behaviors.68 1. 630 .23) nor whether the opponent was a member of the SEC conference (F = (1.01.04* 6 10. 6.60 8 20. 213 . although those increases varied by school. p = . That is.83 26. 4.45%. p = . 3 . group A offenses increased by 19% and group B offenses by 63%. Individual ANOVAs indicated that game day attendance did vary by current team rank status (F (1. For the entire sample. assault offenses.71 1. kidnapping/abduction. 285 . game day attendance and game location were analyzed. 2. Moreover.661 . the model explained 26. Changes in all criminal behavior on college football game days by school.53 1.121 . and destruction offenses (25%). neutral site.42 44. and robbery offenses. Moreover.88. However.33 97.92 2. and all other criminal incidents not otherwise categorized on college football game days (Table 3) for the entire sample.83 41. this increase was not significant for five of the eleven schools (45.001) and opponent rank status (F (1.14 26. Consequently. game day attendance did not vary by game outcome (F = (1. it is worth noting that several individual schools recorded increases in other specific criminal behaviors not identified in the entire sample. it may also be related to structural constraints. significant increases were observed in total group A offenses.32. drunkenness.62 24.04 4.70 34.43 1.e.39 35.12 4.361 . total group B offenses.. followed by assault (45%).36 13.09 1. Combined. as outlined by the NIBRS.42 4.91 1.83 18. 1. including burglary. arson.31 3 33. Similar increases on college football game days were observed for drunkenness (283%).13) supports the conclusion that population influx did not account for increases in criminal behavior.001** 2 19. these findings may indicate that spectator interest and investment may vary based on team ranking. p = . 12 . such that when the current or opposing team were ranked. Overall.91. indicating that mere population influx did not account for observed increases in criminal behavior.38 .53 50. home vs.10 Notes. . The finding that criminal behavior was not affected by game site (i. as compared to non-game days. **Significant at p < . drug offenses (28%).668 . driving under the influence (DUI). Because criminal behavior may have been influenced by a population influx on game days. kidnapping/abduction increased at one school by 361% whereas theft only increased by 26% at another school. disorderly conduct. p = .36 3.50 30. game day attendance increased.350 . multilevel models were created for each type of criminal offense.08 44. the magnitude of those increases varied greatly by school.045* 11 2. Notably.080) = 2.88 68.10 7 4.33e9) = 2.004).13). drug offenses.09).047 1.001** 9 25.70 1. 9. DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 7 criminal behavior increased for every school on college football game days.63e9) = 11. p = .70 1. all other criminal incidents not otherwise categorized (35%).71e9) = 8. disorderly conduct (123%). 1. arson increased by 242% on college football game days when compared to non-game days. However.37% of the variance in criminal behaviors on college football game days for all schools.50 12. 3.001** 10 25. 9.18 1.45 1.36 18.63e9) = 1. larceny/theft offenses. F (3. game day attendance was an insignificant covariate for all criminal behavior on game days versus non-game days (F (1. p = .64.19 4 12. 4.173) = 1. For instance. away vs. error p 1 56. and DUI (100%). In an effort to address the second study purpose.31 2.54 12.08 19.06 41. 2. 1.20 22.06 1. However.001 .76 40.

2078 3. but if the opponent was ranked and the unranked host team won. and game outcome accounted for 4. extortion/blackmail. **Significant at p < .04 .05. opponent team ranking.61 . category created for comparison to previous research.69 1. 12 .29 Group B offenses 1014.006 1.86 1. an interaction of host team ranking.44 1. p < .86 (SD = 26. motor vehicle theft.11 .51 .994). 11 .17 .23 1.60 Homicide offenses 244.74–4 .70 1. 2080 2. 2080 .16 .02* Drug offenses 484.11 12.001.50 21.004** Drunkenness 327. error b SE b p Group A offenses 737. Table 3.61 (SD = 27.77 All other offenses 1121.01 .39. n = 22) and 33.141 Counterfeiting/forgery 292. N = 2. 13 .40 .00 .48 .01 1.33 . NIBRS category χ2 (4) F df.15 13.62 11.23 1.881. but not host city rank.02* Arson 6. n = 51) and 27. criminal incidents reported dropped by 45% (M = 9.23.59 1. the mean number of criminal incidents reported increased to 33.31 (SD = 31. 2087 .65 1.03 . and the unranked host team lost.74 .70. but the opponent was not.94 .21 . mean reported criminal offenses were 26. If both teams were ranked.74 .59 . 9 .36–4 . criminal incidents reported increased by 263% to 75.16 1. 2080 .37 Trespass of real property 1200.69 19.61 .01. n = 9) versus 29.477 1. 10 100.78 .90–3 .04 .17 Destruction offenses 581.56 (SD = 16. n = 17). 2080 . destruction offenses were associated with host city rank and game outcome.80 24.17 1.10 1.12 14.688 Burglary offenses 515.56 2. non-violent family offenses. if the opponent was ranked. a factorial MANOVA was employed to determine what specific game-related variables were associated more closely with certain types of criminal behavior.15–3 . Specifically. 2091 . prostitution. 2081 .14 . Given that not all types of criminal behavior varied equally. and the host team lost.22 Larceny/theft offenses 632.24 2.086 1.4% of the variance in criminal incidents on college football game days (R2 = . opponent ranking. 9 .02 .92 .01–4 .81 1.52.02* Domestic offenses. stolen property.07 .00 .96.04 .56 1. respectively.19–2 .41.95 1. Notably.40 1.62 1.27 Sex offenses 166.28–4 .00 6.06 . but not opponent rank.40 1.45 Runaway 121. if the host team was not ranked.22 1.26 Notes. When considering all NIBRS criminal behavior categories. 9142) = 20.02 .99 46.80 7. n = 13). 14 . †Not an NIBRS category.32 .00011 . gambling.02 . 10 48. *Significant at p < .04 (SD = 21. non-violent sex offenses. power = . 2080 8. 10 .76. if the host team was ranked.43.77 .091 [nno game = 1.79 1.30 .044. pornography.43 1.005** Peeping tom 8.00 .65 3. Table 4 presents the findings from this analysis.004** Bad checks 53. 2079 .88 (SD = 30.68 4. SD = 8.22 (SD = 29.50 1.45 . Estimates of fixed effects and parameters of individual multilevel linear models for specific NIBRS categories. nor was the opponent. whether the host team won or lost.02 .39 1.02* Bribery offenses 0.52 . 2080 . Embezzlement. ngame = 210]). disorderly conduct was associated with opponent rank and game outcome.94 Curfew/loitering/vagrancy violations 177.8 A. Alternatively.01 .05 . 11 1.00008 .71 . n = 45) reported criminal offenses if the ranked host team won.008** Assault offenses 946.005 . whether the host team won or lost. criminal incidents were reported at an average of 25.007** Driving under the influence 284. and liquor law violations were not included given that the number of reported cases over the time period was inadequate to estimate MLM.105 1. violent† 829.02.32 . football game days versus non-game days.00 . .85 Disorderly conduct 472.038 1.078 8. 2080 3.02 1. and game outcome was related to criminal behavior in the host city (F (1.36 1.08 1.78 1. 13 1.90 Kidnapping/abduction 1.75 Weapon law violations 300. respectively. The interaction between host team current ranking. However.07.46 1.37 .80 1. n = 23).02* Fraud offenses 406.49 1. 2080 56. 2080 .17 Robbery 168. n = 25). 75 .292 1.002 . COKER-CRANNEY ET AL.

42 1.25 . drug and narcotics violations. disorderly conduct. was not significantly related to criminal behavior. and drunkenness were all observed. reinforced to spectators by mechanisms of the Social Learning Theory and Self-Esteem Maintenance Model. . Moreover. indicating that the game.46 1. Spaaij 2008. More specifically. one variable representing an increase in population on game days.642 1.001** DUI offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8. destruction. . This dataset was complete for 11 of the 14 schools. Simons and Taylor 1992). 2002).10 (8) 8. specific departments reported increases in the previously mentioned offenses. supporting our first hypoth- esis and previous research showing an increase of criminal behavior on game days (e. and all other offenses. and drug and narcotics violations indicate future areas of research. 764 . disappointment and flow of adrenalin resulting from watching a .10 (8) 22. Finally. demonstrating that college football game days have a moderately positive relationship with criminal behavior. Significant multivariate effects by NIBRS category of criminal behavior on college football game days. assault.15 1.033* Drunkenness offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8. itself.001** Note. Gibson et al. Given that this finding is a departure from previous research. 4 . was to blame for increases in criminal behavior in the present study. 23 < . 1 . college football game days accounted for 16% of the variance in criminal behaviors at SEC member institutions. researchers have argued that increases in criminal incidents surrounding sporting events might not be related to the event itself.89 (2) 33. one unique contribution of this study was its exploration of all specific criminal behaviors reported by campus or city police departments in 11 cities. team play [that] may exacerbate existing tensions within a relationship and result in lost tempers” (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012:33).001** All other offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8. driving under the influence. The SEC culture. Specific criminal behaviors on game days that differed significantly from non-game days were arson. * Significant at p < . drunkenness. is more important in relation to criminal behavior. ** Significant at p < . Rees and Schnepel 2009.35 1. 1554 < .68 1. whether visiting for the game or not. Rees and Schnepel 2009. The increased number of people present in the town.79 1.10 (8) 16. 17 . Whereas an understanding of overall criminal behavior is important to examine in comparison to previous findings.003** Group B offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 17. There was also likely a greater number of people gathered in a city/town on game days when compared to other days.g.02* Arson Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8. However.81 1.01 . . 161 < .10 (8) 5. might also naturally increase the number of criminal incidents present (e. but rather the “excitement. destruction. allowing for a more detailed look at specific criminal behaviors that might be most affected by college football game days in the SEC.g. 4620 < . not the increase in population. In fact.10 (8) 26. highly identified fans (Wann 1997). and dedicated.019* Drug offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8.018* Assault offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 8.001** Disorderly conduct Opponent Rank * Outcome 4. Suggs 2003).54 (8) 4. game day attendance. might support this notion of increased excitement. disorderly conduct.89 (2) 5. depending on the type of offense. itself. Additional increases in arson. DUI.51 1. part of the increase in criminal behavior on SEC football game days might be due to increased presence of police and security at the stadium and throughout the city/town during game days because heightened security would lead to an increased chance of being caught commit- ting a criminal act (Rees and Schnepel 2009).06 (8) 5. NIBRS category Interaction Wilk’s λ (df) F df p Group A offenses Host City Rank * Opponent Rank * Game Outcome 17.05. DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 9 Discussion Overall..10 (8) 25.001** Destruction offenses Host City Rank * Outcome 13. 181 < . increases in incidents reported on game days ranged from 19% to 361%. supporting previous literature (Lanter 2011. increases in assault.58 1. as well as Table 4. the results show a significant increase (40%) in the number of criminal incidents reported on SEC college football game days when compared to non-game days. disappointment. Of those. Regardless. future research should continue to investigate whether population density or the event. and adrenaline given more significant rivalries (Rappoport and Wilner 2007)..

the current study’s finding of a significant increase in criminal behaviors on game days versus non-game days.. DUI. COKER-CRANNEY ET AL. itself. Additionally. which provides them a sense of identity . However. For the present study. That criminal incidents increased by approximately 4–12 incidents on game days when the result is consistent with the rankings and expected outcomes but increased by approximately 54 incidents after being upset is of practical significance to police departments and school administrators for criminal behavior prevention and control efforts. Moreover. itself. As discussed.10 A. Wann and Branscombe 1990). specifically for arson. or (c) a ranked team beat an unranked team may indicate that accurate rankings may buffer incidents of criminal behavior. contrary to previous research (e. present findings indicate that criminal behavior actually decreased (by 45%) after upsetting a ranked team and increased (by 263%) after being upset. further research is needed to confirm these findings. that 10 out of 14 schools were ranked in the Associated Press of Bowl Championship Series Top 25 polls at some point during the 2012 season (ESPN 2013). in fact. Moreover. increase in population density). when controlling for the day of the week (i. It is reasonable to suppose that similar findings might not be found for college gymnastic or swimming meet days. contrary to previous research (e. indicating a practical significance for law enforcement personnel and school administrators. with all of its aggressive primes. Interestingly. so competitive. findings echoed in previous research (Berkowitz 1988. However. watching a collision sport such as football could prime observers to act more aggressively. regardless of where the game is played. supports the hypothesis that the game. Therefore. fans associate with their supported team.g. Whether this is evidence of a continuum of criminal activity on the basis of degree of fan identification or merely as another means of self-concept preservation requires further inquiry. drug and narcotics violations. (b) an unranked team lost to a ranked team. losing to an unranked opponent may cause significant embarrassment in such a highly competitive conference. drunkenness. and destruction violations increased on game days in the current study provides support for this supposition.g. those that differed significantly by department but not for the entire sample.. is. leading fans who highly identify with the team to commit more criminal acts. and that the game. opponent ranking was not predictive of destruction offenses and home ranking was not predictive of disorderly conduct offenses. assault. The Social Learning Theory (Bandura 1978) and the Self-Esteem Maintenance Model (Wann 1993) provide valuable insight into explanations of violent and/or criminal fan behavior. regardless of outcome. requiring further investigation to understand the discrepancy. both during and after the game (Smith 1976. The finding that arson. The finding that winning an upset decreased reports of criminal behavior to approximately 45% less than on non-game days may also support an additional hypothesis that winning and rankings interact to buffer against criminal incidents on college football game days. Simons and Taylor 1992). a major departure of note is that game location (i.. although this would be a valuable area for future research to explore. the SEC is a highly competitive conference.g.g. these findings partially support similar findings by Rees and Schnepel (2009). The current findings support suppositions of each model. the current findings that criminal behavior was roughly commensurate for game days and non-game days when (a) an unranked team played another unranked team. and all other offenses. For instance. Brimicombe and Cafe 2012).. Rees and Schnepel 2009).e. assault. it seems as if a number of factors surrounding game days could contribute to the significant increase in criminal incidents (e. Rees and Schnepel 2009). domestic violence did not significantly differ on SEC football gamedays. Saturday).. In support of the Self-Esteem Maintenance Model. Together. findings from the current study that nonviolent criminal behavior increases following a loss indicate that highly identified fan self-esteem is preserved through both violent and nonviolent means. may be to blame for the increase in criminal behavior. introducing future areas of inquiry. this finding reinforces the influence of a loss on highly identified fans’ willingness to commit criminal acts. Additionally. In extension of the Self-Esteem Maintenance Model. providing evidence that increases in population density on game days is not a significant predictor of violent and/or criminal acts. the interaction of rankings (both teams) and outcome were the greatest predictors of criminal behavior.. home or away) was not a significant predictor of criminal behavior in the SEC. Curiously. Based on the literature. rather than other non-game-related variables (e.e.

Research. Within the competitive culture of the SEC. all data were categorized by day. criminal behavior after a game is likely to continue beyond midnight. comparing schools from different conferences could create a confounding variable (e. Russell 1995. For instance. fans might experience a drop in self-esteem significant enough to drive them toward criminal behavior in order to reestablish their sense of strength and dominance. Rees and Schnepel 2009). although existing anec- dotal evidence might suggest that certain incidents increase during game days. and others were unwilling to provide data to non-residents of the state.. First. not all schools in the SEC were represented in the current analysis. Had an incident classification been more consistent across departments. leading to inflation within the “all other” type of criminal behavior and deflation of other specific offenses. this is the first study. creating an inaccurate portrayal of when incidents occurred.m. Finally. Strengths The current study has a number of unique strengths. other incidents might have changed more significantly. Therefore. to our knowledge. other National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) conferences have distinct cultures that might show different trends of criminal incidents. this study considered the frequency of all criminal behavior rather than focusing on only one behavior such as domestic violence (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012).. Additionally. this study objectively considered each behavior reported by police departments to examine potential differences. if a team is unable to beat an unranked team. whereas the Big XII conference does not. To control for these differences. but could impact surrounding residents of university communities as well. Wann et al. NIBRS categories were used to streamline data analysis and interrater reliability was established to determine consistency of coding by the researchers. This may explain why criminal incidents increased most after ranked teams lost to unranked opponents and why they decreased substantially when an unranked team beat a ranked team. however. Therefore. Additionally. Finally. which might influence the results. Future directions The results of the current study can guide future research in a number of ways. While the SEC is a unique conference. the present study provides evidence that criminal behavior might not be limited to fans.m. DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 11 so “the team is thereby able to elicit feelings of pride or shame in its performance from among the fans” (Lee 1985:38). By comparing findings of the current . that compared data within one conference.g. researchers were unable to contact some departments. to this point. most research on sport and aggression or violence studies the behavior of fans (e. as such. reporting of criminal behavior might be delayed one or two days (Brimicombe and Cafe 2012). 2005). This objective analysis of all behaviors led to a more specific analysis of criminal offenses to provide richer data for criminal behavior which certain police departments might be able to predict and manage. as reported on police reports defined from 12:00:00 a. has been founded within theories of spectator aggression and violence. this system did not always coincide with city or campus police department’s classifications. Limitations Although every attempt was made to collect data from both city and campus police departments for each university’s home town. to 11:59:59 p. the SEC allows the sale of alcohol at games. However. the present study introduces a potentially novel opportunity to further theory and research development. different police departments use various incident classification systems.g. but given that not all criminal behaviors included in this study were violent in nature. The data showed that the culture of a school or town could influence criminal incidents. Moreover. using the NIBRS categories might have led to more incidents falling in the “All other incidents” category instead of with like-offenses. In addition.

students and members of local university communities safe from criminal behavior. This information might also provide a better understanding of factors that play a role in influencing criminal behavior. Finally. city and campus police departments anecdotally reported a dramatic increase in criminal offenses on college football game days. if not all. volleyball. but research focused on more specific variables of interest to these theories is needed to further test them. which likely washed out some of the effects. the interaction between the home team’s current rank. . the current findings might help cities and universities better allocate those funds for specific incidents that increase on college game days (e. Therefore. Together. depending on the school. the present study contributed to the literature by introducing a more comprehensive study of all reported criminal incidents over an entire season.. Therefore. It would be worthwhile to gain a better understanding of criminal incident trends in other NCAA football conferences to compare similarities and differences. Specifically. the relationship between college football game days and criminal behavior is stronger for some schools than others. Conclusions On average. and swimming to see if different types of sports (e. future research is necessary to investigate how college game days may be a buffer for criminal behavior. the frequency for several incidents was very low whereas the frequency for other incidents were very high. non-contact versus contact. these results provide additional support for the Social Learning Theory as well as the Self-Esteem Maintenance Model. drunkenness.g. Although most. Furthermore. COKER-CRANNEY ET AL. however. there was a 40% increase in criminal behavior on college football game days. increasing dispatch units when the local football team is ranked and will be playing an unranked opponent at home). Thus.. and game outcome was most predictive of the difference in criminal behavior from non-game days to game days. setting up more DUI check points. These findings thus provide an understudied focus for future research. we get closer to understanding the best way to discourage and limit criminal incidents. Ultimately. depending on the school and important game-related variables. For example. study with findings of future studies examining criminal behavior on college football game days in other conferences. Regardless. disorderly conduct. the current finding that winning an upset actually decreased criminal incidents below non-game day levels and that five of the eleven schools in the current study did not experience statistically significant overall increases in criminal behavior may indicate that sport can be protective in some circumstance.12 A. By improving our understanding of factors related to criminal behavior surrounding sporting events. school administrations and police departments interested in controlling criminal offenses will have different needs. and other. different trends in criminal behavior may be observed. structural equation modeling might provide researchers and practitioners a model that shows the most significant factors that predict increases in criminal incidents on college football game days. Alternatively. and which factors are most related to each increase. the goal of this research is to better understand the nature of the relationship between college football game days and criminal behavior in the SEC to enhance the knowledge base to prevent criminal behavior and protect emergency responders. Researchers should also continue exploring the relationship between collegiate sport and criminal behavior by analyzing other sports such as basketball. this increase varied by school and category of criminal behavior. and driving under the influence were most elevated on game days. individual versus team. examining the role of proximity of the criminal behavior to the university or other variables might further enhance our understanding of what variables contribute to the increases of criminal behavior observed in this. Communities and universities spend a significant amount of money on increased security to prevent riots (Russell 2004). other in-depth analyses could take the current results one step further. studies. but by how much. Although all data of criminal incidents were collected for the entire 123 days of the 2012 fall semester.g. patrolling local areas for larceny and theft. fall versus spring) might influence criminal behavior differently. opponent ranking. Moreover. the current study created a tangible analysis to not only explain which specific criminal acts increase. arson.

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