As Ducks win, male grades drop. (and when teams lose, more domestic violence.)

12/20/2011: (updated 12/21 with 2 new cites at bottom.) That’s the ESPN headline for this paper from 3 UO economists, using data from UO students. 108 news stories last time I looked, and UO is still trying to figure out how to word the press release. (Update: it’s here – reads as if edited by a drunken administrative committee and a coach or two.) Atlantic magazine summary and discussion here. Ducks win, grades go down. Ducks lose, grades go up:

ASUO President Eckstein’s take:

The findings didn’t really surprise Oregon student government president Ben Eckstein.
“It’s consistent with the culture on campus and the culture at this university where a stronger emphasis is put on athletic success than on academic success,” Eckstein said. Though a fan himself, he says the university’s financial and building priorities favor sports facilities over academics, and “there’s a lack of focus on connecting our athletic success to our academic mission” which trickles down to students.

UO’s official vacuous non-reply, from acting provost Lorraine Davis:

“Academic success has been and remains the top priority at the University of Oregon,” she said. “I am proud of the academic strengths of the institution. Our athletic programs enhance experiences for our students, faculty, alumni and the greater community.

The story doesn’t mention that Lorraine’s most recent previous job was as acting Athletic Director, and that she still sits on the committee that gives special admits to the football players that don’t meet academic standards.

Two other recent papers have used higher frequency data to tie football *losses* to domestic violence:

College Football Games and Crime,
Daniel I. Rees and Kevin T. Schnepel.
Journal of Sports Economics, 2009

Abstract: There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that college
football games can lead to aggressive and destructive behavior by
fans. However, to date, no empirical study has attempted to document
the magnitude of this phenomenon. We match daily data on offenses from
the National Incident-Based Reporting System to 26 Division I-A
college football programs to estimate the relationship between college
football games and crime. Our results suggest that the host community
registers sharp increases in assaults, vandalism, arrests for
disorderly conduct, and arrests for alcohol-related offenses on game
days. Upsets are associated with the largest increases in the number
of expected offenses.




We study the link between family violence and the emotional cues associated
with wins and losses by professional football teams. We hypothesize that the risk
of violence is affected by the “gain-loss” utility of game outcomes around a ratio-
nally expected reference point. Our empirical analysis uses police reports of violent
incidents on Sundays during the professional football season. Controlling for the
pregame point spread and the size of the local viewing audience, we find that upset
losses (defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points)
lead to a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men against their wives
and girlfriends. In contrast, losses when the game was expected to be close have
small and insignificant effects. Upset wins (victories when the home team was
predicted to lose) also have little impact on violence, consistent with asymmetry
in the gain-loss utility function. The rise in violence after an upset loss is concen-
trated in a narrow time window near the end of the game and is larger for more
important games. We find no evidence for reference point updating based on the
halftime score.JELCodes: D030, J120.

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20 Responses to As Ducks win, male grades drop. (and when teams lose, more domestic violence.)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Big deal. Part of life is learning how to succeed with a lot of distractions. College is where you can learn how to do this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m no economist (really!), but the folks at the 30th and Hilyard Albertsons tell me they sell twice as much beer after a win than after a loss.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always known life is about beer. This paper proves it. Awesome.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I recently spent my first-ever Autzen game day handing out flyers supporting Lariviere. In the meantime, the amount of drunkenness on flagrant display outside Autzen at 11:00 a.m. was nothing short of disgusting. Why does the UO administration, alumni, or athletics system condone this? And don’t say “they don’t condone it”. They most certainly do in practice. Must be that it brings in money to something.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m no economist either, which is why I’m a little skeptical about what basically amounts to a not-yet-replicated-or-peer-reviewed correlation on N=8 football seasons that pops in and out of significant depending on covariates and model specification and that, in the best case scenario, means that 3 fewer wins per season (about 1.5 SD in this dataset) would be associated with an average GPA that is a whopping 0.02 points higher.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m no economist, but it also seems their paper can only address relative effects. To your point above, the true effects might be a lot bigger, but curving wipes it out.

    Here’s the real question. How do football game wins affect our evaluations?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Or the true effect might be smaller, or in the opposite direction, or nonexistent. What we need is a randomized experiment, which could double as the lamest point-shaving scandal in the history of sports.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good idea. Anyone know how much it costs to get a coach to throw a game? Seems like the incentive bonuses would be the lower bound.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m no statistician, but this kind of causal inference from observational data is exactly the kind of methodology we should be del>teaching

  10. Anonymous says:

    PS, anyone else get the email attempting to sell them tix to WWE at MattCourt? I’m glad UO is now in the pro wrestling promoting business! Better that than dip into the general fund when the Legacy fund is cashed out, I guess.

  11. Anonymous says:

    No, we should be teaching them how to do it correctly. Which I think this paper does nicely, with its quasi-experimental design and analysis. I’ll probably use it in my next lecture on how to avoid endogeneity bias. Interesting paper!

    And FWIW, I am a statistician.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Anon 4 back clearly does not read UO Matters closely (and/or is not an economist) if he/she does not realize it would be much cheaper to buy off the players. At any rate, now that a member of UO’s statistics department has weighed in, I think the discussion is settled.

  13. UO Matters says:

    Yes, since UO has no statistics department or statistical consulting – Rich Linton let Frances Dyke spend the money on Johnson Hall – even 1 observation is more than enough to infer significance. Lots of statisticians in other departments, of course.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why are you people geeking out on the methodology of this paper? Anyone who’s ever taught a class knows how much students flake out and how much football is a gigantic, expensive waste of time. The paper saddens me; your discussion is outright depressing.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Football isn’t the problem. Students looking for an excuse to waste time is. I went to every football game during my four years at UO. I also managed to do well in all my classes. Its not the football program’s fault that some people aren’t smart enough to manage their time.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You are right. The football program is just exploiting that weakness for money, while giving brain damage to the players and setting it up so they can’t get compensation later.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “The football program is just exploiting that weakness for money”

    So are the beer companies, and the marijuana dealers, and movie companies, and virtually every other form of entertainment out there…welcome to capitalism.

  18. UO Matters says:

    Sure, my pot dealer is a capitalist. But the NCAA is a monoposonistic hiring cartel. Harberger triangles and rent seeking efficiency dissipation. Much worse for social welfare. Not that I’m an economist.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this common sense though? Did they really need a study to point it out?

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m amazed that the gender gap is ever close. Males in my classes have clearly poor study habits almost without exception. Females usually take 8-9 of the top 10 grades on tests.

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