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Study: Crime Rates Lower During Televised Sporting Events

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Spectators on the lawn react during a tennis match. (credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Spectators on the lawn react during a tennis match. (credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

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BERKELEY, Cali. (CBS Sacramento) – According to a new study, crime rates are lower during live sporting events.

Hannah Laqueur and Ryan Copus, doctoral candidates in UC Berkeley School of Law’s jurisprudence and social policy program, hypothesized theories to support the connection between entertainment and crime.

The two decided to research crime trends as related to sporting events in Chicago. Data of crime is released by the minute in Chicago.

They discovered that reports of crime decreased by about 15 percent when sporting event games are televised, compared to when games are not.

“There’s always the question, if you stop a crime either with police or with a game, is that a crime that’s really prevented? Or is that a crime that’s prevented for now and pops up at a later date?” Copus told The Daily Californian. “At least in the short term, it looks like these are really crimes prevented, not just put off until a different time.”

Franklin Zimring, a William G. Simon professor of law at UC Berkeley, shared that “This observation can be explained by interpreting crime as a form of entertainment.”

“If there’s something extremely interesting to you going on on Monday night, something that you want to spend time and attention watching, that’s times and attention that you’re not going to spend getting involved in fights or burglarizing houses,” Zimring said. “You’re too busy watching the game.”

Despite their research, Laqueur and Copus will not suggest changes to public scheduling of sports games.

“We’re not seriously going to be policy advocates,” Laqueur said. “We think the research is more interesting in terms of what it says about criminal behavior.”

Laqueur and Copus plan on publishing a different study in which they follow trends in the Chicago crime rate over a longer period of time both before and after sports games.  They wish to see if crime rates eventually rise to compensate for the game-related dip.

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