Data to assess Ray Lewis’ claim that crime would increase if the NFL doesn’t play

A while back, I called for data to assess Ray Lewis’ claim that crime would rise if the NFL doesn’t have games. A group of journalists decided to use data to examine Lewis’ argument and even made at least one of the comparisons I suggested might be helpful:

The AJC accepted Lewis’ invitation to do that research, contacted the Northeastern’s Sport in Society center and was told that “there is very little evidence supporting Lewis’ claim that crime will increase the longer the work stoppage lasts.”…

The Sun looked at crime in Baltimore the four weeks before the season started and the first four weeks of the season. There was the same number of crimes. The Sun also examined the crime rate there at the end of the Ravens’ season and what happened afterward. What did it find? There was less crime after the season ended in early January.

The Sun stressed several times that its findings were unscientific…

The AJC then went to look at increases in crime during bye weeks, assuming that the no football/higher crime equation would fit a much shorter time frame. No real evidence was presented that would lead in one direction or another.

One criminologist we interviewed had a different take. Northeastern University professor James A. Fox heard Lewis’ comments and did a study. He looked at key FBI data from the last three years available, 2006 through 2008, focusing on the week before the Super Bowl because there were no games that week and there was intense interest in football around that time of the year. Fox, who was referred to us by the FBI, found no increase in crime the week there was no football.

This isn’t comprehensive data – but it’s a start. Of course, such studies need to control for a lot of possible factors that could affect crime levels and fairly large samples across multiple cities are needed.

I still don’t quite understand why the media’s response to Lewis’ claim with data has been either slow or not disseminated widely, particularly Lewi’s argument was widely aired and discussed.

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