In Cities Where NFL Games Kick Off, So Does Crime

Sunday, November 30, 2014
(graphic: Dave Coon)

Sunday is a great day for football fans, and not so bad for criminals, either.


A new study published in the Journal of Sports Economics says crime shoots up when NFL games take place. Total crime increases about 3% when a city hosts a pro football game.


With certain crimes, such as larceny and auto theft, the jumps are even higher: 4% and 7%, respectively, according to researchers David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee.


“NFL home games are correlated with a higher incidence of crime compared to non-game days or days when the team is playing an away game in another city,” they wrote.


Kalist and Lee selected eight cities for their study: Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Washington. They examined crime statistics in those metropolitan areas over a two-year period and concluded that certain crimes go up in frequency because of the mass concentration of people at NFL games, which can attract more than 50,000 fans per game. At these heavily populated venues, pickpockets have a field day, as do car thieves roaming stadium parking lots.


“A large gathering of people on game day increases the number of potential targets and may also reduce the likelihood of criminal apprehension, as criminals can blend more easily into larger crowds,” the authors wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Why City Crime Spikes during Home Football Games (by Roberto A. Ferdman, Washington Post)

The National Football League: Does Crime Increase on Game Day? (by David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee, Journal of Sports Economics)

Minnesota Vikings Lead NFL in Player Arrests (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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