Researchers have found a correlation between Division I football games and increased reports of rape—and they frame the evidence of that link as "robust." The December working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research used local-area crime data from the FBI to estimate that football games are behind an additional 253 to 770 rapes of college-age victims a year across America's 128 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools. The overall figure being bandied about is 28%, that representing the overall jump in reported rapes by those ages 17 to 24 in the schools' policing areas. The biggest jumps in reported rapes occurred on home-game days (41% versus 15% on away-game days). On those home-game days, reports of rape perpetrated by strangers were found to rise 61%, while those by acquaintances jumped 28%.
As for the "back-of-envelope" math behind the 253-to-770 estimate, that could be conservative. The calculations were based on reported rapes only; some studies find that as few as 12% of rapes are ever reported, reports the Guardian. At Slate, Nora Caplan-Bricker offers another reason "to take this paper with a grain of salt. It hasn't yet been peer reviewed." Still, she thinks it contains some "helpful insights about what happens when on-campus alcohol consumption rises." Indeed, the third element in the mix is the partying that accompanies the games, per the researchers. "Division I football games offer a clear instance [when] partying is intensified," one researcher tells Bloomberg. "By providing convincing evidence that spikes in the degree of partying at a university escalate the incidence of rape, our results suggest that efforts to avoid such spikes could serve to reduce the incidence of rape," researchers write.