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Sports Victories Spur Injuries

Assaults seem to surge when the home team wins

THURSDAY, March 31, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- It's the thrill of victory, not the agony of defeat, that's most likely to spark fan violence at sporting events, according to a new British study.

Researchers examined data on the number of people needing emergency medical care for assault-related injuries in Cardiff, Wales, after international rugby and soccer games held between May 1995 and April 2002.

During this time, Wales teams played 74 rugby and 32 soccer home and away games, with hospitals reporting nearly 27,000 assault-related injuries that required emergency treatment.

On average, there were 30 such injuries on the day of, or after, a game. The number of assault injuries requiring emergency treatment peaked just before midnight on game days, the researchers noted. In contrast, assault injuries fell to an average of 21 on days when there were no games.

Injuries climbed to their highest levels whenever Wales tasted victory, the researchers added. Assault injuries averaged 33 a day when Wales won its games and 25 when it lost.

"These analyses suggest that assault may not be the result of negative factors associated with a national team losing," the study authors wrote, "but the result of a positive event" -- winning. Findings appear in the journal Injury Prevention.

The authors suspected that success at the goal post may increase fans' levels of self-confidence, assertiveness or patriotism -- all factors that can lead to violence. Celebratory drinking also may increase the risk of violence when the home team wins.

Previous research had noted an increased risk for domestic violence when the male assailant's home team wins a game.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has advice on sports and exercise safety for teens.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, March 31, 2005
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