Study Shows Domestic Violence Increases after Upset Loss in NFL

March 24, 2011

In a study published online earlier this week by The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2011, Vol. 126, pp. 1-41), two California physicians have reported that domestic violence against women increases significantly in areas where the home fans’ National Football League (NFL) teams just suffered an upset loss at home.

In the article, Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior, authors David Card and Gordon Dahl report their findings after studying the results of NFL games and comparing those to local police reports of family violence that occurred in a small window immediately following the conclusion of the game. Their study matched NFL game outcomes and family violence reports of six teams: Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans.

When a team lost at home in a game it was favored to win by at least four points, the study discovered a 10% increase in at-home domestic violence by men against women in the local area of the losing franchise. The percentage doubled to 20% when the team lost to a rival.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that emotional cues based on the outcomes of professional football games exert a relatively strong effect on the occurrence of family violence.” (p. 3)

The authors did report that domestic violence cases are still much more frequent during holidays—typically a peak time for domestic violence incidents—although the spike following an NFL team’s loss was approximately equal to the domestic violence reports that occur on hot days, also generally a time when domestic violence cases increase.

“In our case, NFL football games are likely to bring couples together, and the emotional cues associated with televised games place women at an elevated risk of abuse.” (p. 38)

Full journal article: The Quarterly Journal of Economics


Senior VP Offers Opinion on Technology Use by Sport Marketers

March 23, 2011

As the senior vice president of sports for GMR Marketing, Ed Kiernan has acquired an intimate knowledge of the world of sport marketing. He recently granted an interview to Sport Marketing Quarterly Industry Insider section editor Jim Kadlecek to talk about some current hot-button issues in the industry. The full interview is available in the March 2011 issue (Vol. 20, No. 1) of Sport Marketing Quarterly.

Q: As we get further into 2011, what predictions do you have with respect to sponsorship activation?

Kiernan: “NFL? ‘The One to Watch in 2011.’ With the possibility of an NFL lockout in 2011, all companies and brands involved with the NFL on a league, team, media, or player sponsorship should be analyzing their current campaigns and promotional activation to determine how they may be impacted. This analysis should consider all potential lockout scenarios and timing and how those will affect current programming and develop contingency plans to minimize the impact and potentially benefit from proactive counter programming. Who will win this battle—billionaires or millionaires?”

Q: What about your predictions about the use of technology?

Kiernan: “You have to learn how to navigate the fragmented social media space in order to micro-target exact niche audiences. The key is to not interrupt the consumer; rather engage and empower them to participate. You must distribute clear brand messages to the right audience, while teaching clients how to be successful in the new world of digital word-of-mouth marketing. The philosophy is simple; bring people closer to the things they love and they will do the marketing for you. Some things to watch in 2011: (a) more website and blog integrations and promotions, (b) enhanced digital content distribution, (c) social network loyalty and engagement, (d) the ever-growing need for digital reporting, metrics, and analytics, (e) mCRM and commerce, and (f) mobile social commerce.”

Q: With HD and now 3D sport broadcasts, what do properties need to do to ensure fans still purchase tickets and come to the events instead of viewing from the comfort of their living room?

Kiernan: “Sports entities are facing more challenges than ever before but their biggest threat is the elevated, at-home viewing experience. As consumers weigh the cost benefits of attending a live game versus watching from the comforts of their home on a large HD television, sports teams are feeling the pinch when it comes to selling out venues. To combat the threat of the “new” at-home viewing experience, sports entities are turning to new technologies in an effort to improve the in-stadium fan experience, offer corporate partners new inventory, and drive their bottom line. Here is a quick breakdown of several new technologies that sports entities are turning to in an effort to enhance the game day experience for fans and offer new integration opportunities for corporate: FanVision: NFL and NCAA; Yinzcam: NFL; Augmented Reality Mobile Applications: USTA, Wimbledon, and NASCAR; Massive Stadium LED Video Boards: Dallas Cowboys Stadium.”

NFL Labor Dispute 101 with Braham Dabscheck

March 18, 2011

Just when sports fans were starting to turn their attention away from the NFL labor dispute and toward NCAA March Madness, the fighting between the players and owners has taken center stage once again. And during a time when buzzer-beating underdogs advancing in the NCAA Tournament typically captivates the nation, it’s quite a feat that the NFL has been thrust back into the proverbial water cooler discussions.

San Diego Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett put the NFL dispute back into spotlight by these comments earlier this week to XX Sports Radio in San Diego about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

“Goodell’s full of it. He’s a liar. You’re a blatant liar. ‘It’s our league, it’s we, we love the players, we want the league,’ but what have you done for the players? What have you done, in all honesty, to improve the game, besides fine guys, besides take money away from guys, besides change a game that you’ve never played? … He’s done nothing to improve the game.”

While the players and owners kept comments to themselves during the mediation process, since the NFLPA has decertified, a group of players has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its owners, and the owners have locked out the players, the public verbal sparring has begun once again.

But for those without a law degree or intimate knowledge of player associations, sport leagues, and labor relations, much of what the two sides are bickering about can be a bit confusing. That’s why Fitness Information Technology has turned to Braham Dabscheck for a primer we’ll call NFL Labor Relations 101. Dabscheck, a senior fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne in Australia, is an industrial relations scholar who has conducted research on professional team sports for nearly four decades. He is also the author of a new release, Reading Baseball: Books, Biographies, and the Business of the Game.

Q: With the players’ union decertifying and 10 players filing an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL owners, who as a result locked out the players, which side holds more power at this point?

Dabscheck: “There will be different answers for the short- (off-season) and long-term (when next season should begin). A lockout is an aggressive act by employers attempting to force workers/players to accept their terms and conditions. In the short run it will negatively affect the players. Once the season is scheduled to start, if the lockout continues, the players don’t buckle, and there is no play, that will hurt the owners more. Why? Because they will obtain no revenue. I feel at this stage both sides are testing each other; wanting to see who will blink first. This may suggest that the dispute will drag on to just prior to the new season. If the players haven’t blinked there will be internal pressure from within the owners to lower their eyelids.”

Q: What exactly is an antitrust lawsuit?

Dabscheck: “Owners/leagues introduced rules like the draft, trading, salary caps etc to control players. Such rules (with the exception of baseball) have been found to be in breach of the Sherman Anti Trust Act 1890 (see my chapters 3 and 4). An antitrust suit would be where players challenge such IMPOSED rules as being in violation of such legislation. A way for owners/league to protect such rules from antitrust action is to have them endorsed in a collective bargaining agreement with players/players’ association. This is why the NFLPA has decertified as a Union under the National Labor Relations Act. It removes such protection.”

Q: Is the decertification and lawsuit just a power move or do the players really intend to see the lawsuit run its course?

Dabscheck: “It is both. It is a power move that opens up the owners’ revenue sharing plans, which by definition is a collusive agreement to antitrust action. It is the major bargaining chip at their disposal. To back down would be tantamount to throwing in the towel. The problem for the NFLPA is for players to hold firm. It looks like the action is well supported by players, especially the stars who have the most to lose if the NFL wins.”

Q: Aside from locking out the players, which they have now done, is there anything else the owners can do to try to gain the upper hand in this dispute?

Dabscheck: “If the dispute goes on long enough they would have the option of looking for replacement players, as they have done in the past and as American corporations do in other disputes. This will help to raise the temperature. Fans and commentators may regard this as a devaluation of the NFL product. In short, this is a tactic that has to be played most carefully.”

Q: Will both sides continue to negotiate even though a group of players is suing the owners and the owners have locked out the players?

Dabscheck: “Yes. Negotiations will occur formally and informally. Also, various intermediaries will be active behind the scenes.”

Q: Can you give us your best projection of how this will play out and how, if at all, the 2011 NFL season will be affected?

Dabscheck: “This is a tough question. It looks like the owners want a fight. They may or may not be solid on this. The NFL has experienced much growth and success in recent years. The owners will feel less inclined to fight when they start to experience costs (loss of revenue). Assuming the players don’t capitulate, the 2011 season may be disrupted. If the owners (or enough of them) perceive that the players aren’t likely to cave in and the use of replacement players will cause different types of problems, they owners will have an incentive to lower their eyelids.”

Fantasy football lockout might deal with real numbers

February 4, 2011
To some, the idea of playing in a fantasy sport league may seem childish and unnecessary; to others it’s a way of life. With $800 million spent last year on fantasy leagues alone, the leagues are hard to ignore. As the industry becomes more widely followed and the fans become more involved, it’s hard to imagine a year without the excitement of drafts and statistics. Some players might say fantasy sports are mostly about having fun, making money, and competing against friends, but the industry is much more complicated. In the probable event that the NFL has a lockout this year, what happens to fantasy football will be much more than simply locking out fans from playing for entertainment.

 There are entire shows on ESPN dedicated to fantasy football statistics, keeping fantasy footballers up-to-date with all of their players.  Many companies are banking on the amount of interest fantasy football incurs each season, such as Yahoo and CBS. According to CNBC online, there are an estimated 21 million fantasy football players bringing in millions of dollars for the industry, and the amount of players continues to grow each year. CNBC also said that 60 percent of the leagues cost money to join and the average league costs $60-80 per team. With statistics like that, it’s easy to see how the leagues bring in such a significant amount of money. For most people, fantasy football wouldn’t be their first concern in the case of a lockout, although for some, it could mean a great financial loss. Advertisers who make money on fantasy football websites and businesses that offer fantasy football software would be greatly affected. For Art of the Fan, a website devoted entirely to fantasy football merchandise, priding itself on original t-shirt designs and the perfect gift for the fantasy fanatic, next season may mean few if any buyers. In the event of a lockout, websites and businesses such as Art of the Fan will have no one to turn to for recourse. The NFL doesn’t endorse this small business along with other similarly small businesses and will have no obligation to help them during the lockout.  

ESPN tells the story of a man named Nathan Harrington who was on medical leave from his job and was subsequently evicted from his apartment, leaving him, his fiancé and their son homeless. Luckily for him, he had his fantasy team to pull him through. He checked friend’s computers, library, and nursing home computers to keep up with his team. His time and effort finally paid off when he came in first in the league on ESPN, making $2,500 that would ultimately help find a way off of the street. What would have happened to Nathan Harrington if the season had been canceled? Fantasy football gave him and his family a second chance. Obviously, while this is a not a scenario that is highly likely for the average American, but it is something to think about in the upcoming months.

Many leagues use pre-draft boards to organize members and players.

Fantasy draft parties make up a large part of fantasy revenue for businesses. On Squidoo you can find tips for what not to do in when you become a fantasy football coach. Yahoo also features a community site, Associated Content,where you can find an extensive list of tips for planning your next NFL draft party. If planning your own party is not for you, you can head over to bars like Hooters that held a staggering 25,000 draft parties this year, offering free draft kits with each reservation.

Most of the discussion on the possibility of an NFL lockout revolves around effects it will have on the owners and player’s union but the true victims in this situation could be the fans. Without a fantasy football season to concentrate on, fans may turn to other fantasy sports, leaving fantasy football in the dust. Similarly, without an NFL season for fans to follow, other leagues may grow in popularity, such as the MLB, NBA and NHL.  During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Ken Dryden, former NHL goaltender stated, “You never want to give a fan a chance to find out whether it was passion or habit.” The lockout could potentially benefit other sports leagues by taking the most popular sport in America out of the entertainment scene. Time magazine online states that, “for fans, well, no football wouldn’t just be a bitter disappointment that could rearrange their fall weekend schedules, but also a betrayal of intense loyalty that could permanently damage America’s best sports brand.” It’s not just going to affect the sport for one season; this cancellation could mean the loss of fans for many years to come. Those who aren’t already lifelong fans may decide that football isn’t worth the time and money spent following the teams.

There are young men, some as young as eight years old, who dedicate their lives to perfecting their skills as football players and one day dream of making it to the NFL. What will happen if this lockout turns into more than just one season? Many of the boys and men who have trained their entire lives to play in the NFL may lose hope for success. For the owners and the players, there are more things than just wage percentages that must factor into the potential 2011 lockout; they should consider the long-term effects the canceled season will bring. There are millions of fans and businesses who will suffer from this lockout which could potentially harm the football industry for years to come. After all, without fans, there wouldn’t be any football.

Former Super Bowl MVP Offers Tips On Thriving In High-Pressure Game

February 1, 2011

As Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers prepare for Super Bowl XLV, the two starting quarterbacks are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Anticipation, anxiety, and excitement are just a few of the feelings they must deal with as the big game quickly approaches.

Roethlisberger has been in this situation before, guiding the Steelers to two Super Bowl championships. Rodgers, one would think, would have a more difficult time trying to put aside the added scrutiny, distractions, and immense pressures during the days and hours leading up to America’s most revered sports spectacle.

One quarterback who could advise Rodgers on how to successfully manage his emotions is Phil Simms, who led the New York Giants to a victory over John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Simms still holds the Super Bowl completion percentage record after connecting on 22 of 25 passes en route to being named Super Bowl XXI MVP.

“Early in my career I had read many accounts of quarterbacks saying that the Super Bowl game was so big that they could not settle down until the second quarter of the game,” Simms said. “They had a difficult time remembering and focusing on the plays that they ran during the first quarter. And as I read those accounts I recall thinking, ‘If I ever get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, I am not going to waste 25% of that game just trying to settle down.’

“In the two weeks leading up to that game in January 1987, I thought to myself many times, ‘I am not worried about the outcome. I am going to be aggressive and confident in my thinking.’ I remember thinking, ‘I am not afraid to fail.’ Having that mindset just kept me loose and confident leading up to and through the entire game. As I look back over my career, I have often thought, ‘Why didn’t I approach more games like that, or really, why didn’t I approach all my games like that?’”

Simms’ revelation about his mental focus and preparation appears in the foreword he wrote for the forthcoming Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life, published by Fitness Information Technology (FiT). Written by former Olympic rower and America’s Cup sailor Dr. Amy Baltzell, Living in the Sweet Spot provides a fresh look at the integration of sport psychology and positive psychology and gives readers expert guidance as they prepare for life’s big performances.

“As I look back, I realize just how powerful your mind can be when it comes to athletic performance,” said Simms, who is now a lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports. “But I didn’t have a book like Living in the Sweet Spot to help me develop consistency in using my mind to help produce great performances.”

Another former NFL quarterback has found the information presented in Living in the Sweet Spot to be useful in his new position as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, whose home stadium will serve as the site of Super Bowl XLV.

“I’ve always been interested in how to perform better—for myself and now for our players,” said Jason Garrett in his testimonial for the book. “Performance at the highest level is always a challenge. This book provides some excellent practical ideas of how to achieve and sustain high levels of performance from the psychological perspective.”

Simms and Garrett are joined by several other prominent athletes, coaches, musicians, and psychologists who either offer testimonials for Living in the Sweet Spot, or whose experiences, struggles, and subsequent victories over mental obstacles are detailed by Baltzell. A licensed psychologist and professor at Boston University, Baltzell serves as a consultant to many elite athletes and musicians and has been featured in interviews both locally in Boston and nationwide on programs such as CBS Sunday Morning.

“The focus of this book is about how to create and use your habit of positive emotion and focus to prepare for such high-pressure performance moments so you can thrive under pressure,” Baltzell said.

Click here for more information on Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life or to order an advance copy of the book.

Cutler Case Proves Players Need to be Better Educated about Use of Social Media

January 27, 2011

National Football League players should now have a greater understanding of the impact of social media. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler certainly is aware of its effects.

In a story that has been well documented, Cutler suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of his team’s NFC Championship game against its long-time rival, the Green Bay Packers. Cutler started the third quarter but quickly exited and failed to play the remainder of the game.

Many of Cutler’s colleagues around the league watching the game on TV immediately grabbed their iPhones, iPads, and other devices and headed to Twitter, where they questioned his toughness, heart, desire, and just about everything else for not playing the rest of the game. Here’s a snippet of some of the tweets by NFL players:

“You dont not play in the NFC championship game cuz your knee hurt, only way I’d come out is if my knee is jus shattered” — Aaron Curry, Seattle Seahawks linebacker

“Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now… When the going gets tough……..QUIT.” — Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars running back

“All I’m saying is that he can finish the game with a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one.” —Jones-Drew

“Cutler u little siSsy…how does it feel that ur back up’s backup is the only 1that can put pts on the board!I bet cutler comes back now!” — Raheem Brock, Seattle Seahawks defensive end

“Cutler…wut a sissy! This is the NFC Championship game! Guaranteed if it was brett farve..he would still be in the game!” —Brock

“If I’m on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!” — Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman

After receiving backlash about his Twitter posts, and after it was revealed Cutler sprained his MCL in his knee, Jones-Drew tried to backtrack on his tweets, insinuating that they were taken out of context, as if there really is “context” in which tweets should be viewed.

With the exploding popularity of social media, players at both the professional and collegiate level need to be schooled on the ramifications of the tweet-what-you-think mentality. Players standing in front of a group of sports reporters generally would never say many of the things they tweet, yet what they post on Twitter is distributed to just as wide an audience — and it’s distributed immediately without filter.

Brad Schultz, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, editor of the Journal of Sports Media, and co-author of Media Relations in Sport, 3rd Edition, believes that players, and everyone in general, need to be better educated about how they use social media.

“The one thing we’re seeing not just in sports, but in all of our culture, is a lack of recognition of the power and immediacy of the social media,” Schultz said. “People will tweet or post, believing that they are just ‘ranting’ to a few friends. In fact, their comments reach a potentially global audience and have a real sense of permanence.”

Perhaps even more education provided to players by sports information specialists, coaches, administrators, or front office personnel is needed to better educate players about the ramifications of their social media use. But some schools, teams, and leagues are taking it a step further, and supervising, regulating, and sometimes banning players’ use of social media.

“Look at the trouble the North Carolina football program got in last fall when several players were suspended for inappropriate tweets,” Schultz said. “The school now has a coach whose duties include monitoring each player’s social media site and Twitter account. Obviously, it’s a different story in professional leagues, and while the NFL does have a policy in place, the situation needs to be more firmly addressed by individual teams.”

Players Becoming More Outspoken about NFL Safety Measures

December 2, 2010

Just as the National Football League season heads into the final few weeks and fans’ interest peaks in anticipation of the playoffs, Commissioner Roger Goodell has a growing public relations dilemma.

Reacting in part to several scientific studies recently conducted about the effects of concussions, the NFL has made player safety a priority. One way the league did so was by enforcing rules regarding hitting “defenseless” receivers and striking players “helmet to helmet.” As a result, a bundle of fines and flags have been thrown at the feet of players this season.

But now the NFL may need to react to a groundswell of confusion and anger by players who say they believe the NFL has become too protective, too inconsistent, and too quick to issue fines for players who violate the rules. What’s ironic is that the very players the NFL is attempting to protect from head injuries are the ones complaining about the rules, claiming that aggression is being removed from the game.

While at first it was a select few defensive players who had reputations for being quick-tempered that were speaking out against the NFL’s new crackdown on cracking heads, this week the source of criticism has crossed the line of scrimmage. Offensive players, such as Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward, are now joining the crowd that claims the NFL is unfairly and inconsistently punishing certain defenders for aggressive play on the field.

In fact, Ward, one of the most respected players in the game, went so far as to call the NFL brass “hypocrites” because if player safety was such a concern, he argues the NFL wouldn’t have recently agreed to extend the regular season from 16 to 18 games (although the preseason schedule will be reduced).

While Ward is concerned about his perception that players are being treated unfairly by the NFL, he is also likely looking out for the interest of his own team, because the Steelers have made a reputation of being a hard-hitting defense, and teammate James Harrison has been fined four times for $125,000 by the NFL for hits it deemed were against the rules.

“If they’re so concerned about safety, why are you adding two more games? That right there tells it all,” Ward told a group of reporters. “They don’t care about the safety of the game. If they’re worried about concussions … mandate each player has a new helmet. They don’t do that. They collect money from every helmet (company) that pays them enough money to get their helmets on the field. Now they have three different helmets, and none of them (are) proven that they work.”

But Ward didn’t stop there. He claimed hypocrisy by the NFL on other things, from gambling to alcohol, and truthfully he raises some interesting points.

“Talk about safety, but you add two games. Talk about you don’t want players to drink, but our major endorsement is Coors Light. That’s all you see is beer commercials. … You say you don’t want us to gamble, but you have (point) spreads.”

Ward’s comments have certainly ignited an already hotly debated issue. The NFL, now, must figure out a way to douse the flames while attempting to balance player safety with player satisfaction.