Study: Rape Rates Spike on Game Day at Big Football Schools

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Photo: Thomas M. Barwick

A new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper attempts to examine how events that intensify partying can increase incidents of sexual assault. One of its major findings? That the partying culture on game days at Division I colleges contributes to a huge spike in reported rapes.

The paper’s authors found that reported rapes rise as much as 41 percent on the days of home games at big football schools, and the assaults are typically committed by college-aged individuals on college-aged victims. What’s more, rapes that occur on game day are 61 percent more likely to be committed by strangers, a deep contrast to typical campus sexual assaults in which nine out of ten victims know their rapist.

And that’s not all! According to the Huffington Post:

The researchers estimate that football games could lead to as many as 770 rapes at the 128 schools that make up the FBS every year, and no fewer than 253. How far the estimate swings in either direction depends on how much you attribute the rise in reported rapes to the influx of people to the area on game day – more people might just mean a higher chance of rape – or to a change in behavior associated with alcohol consumption and party culture.

The paper’s authors say they hope their research will contribute to a better understanding of the social costs of college football programs.