Let’s Blame Everything on the Super Bowl


The Super Bowl can be hazardous to your health – especially if you are over 65 and live in one of the two cities that are playing in that year’s Super Bowl.

According to new research by economists at Tulane and Cornell universities, having a team in the championship appears to increase hometown flu deaths among older Americans by 18%. “Sending a team to the Super Bowl,” the researchers write, “leads to an additional seven reported influenza deaths per million for those aged 65 and older in the home county” of a Super Bowl team.

As to the host cities, the study found no significant change in the influenza death, perhaps because the NFL often chooses cities that are warm and humid, and the flu virus thrives in places that are cold and dry, the scientists say.

The economists speculate that having a team in the Super Bowl may mean increased socializing, above and beyond the norm, including sharing bowls of snacks, handling serving utensils, double-dipping chips and so on. The additional mixing spreads around the affliction, the theory goes, and the elderly then have a higher likelihood of infection.

Interesting research, and I’m always curious what motivates someone to do such research. Who would ever think to see if there is a correlation between the flue and the home team of one of the Super Bowl participants?

Well it’s not the first time that someone has looked for unusual correlations with the Super Bowl.

There is a superstition known as the Super Bowl Indicator that says that the stock market’s performance in a given year can be predicted based on the outcome of the Super Bowl of that year. It was “discovered” by Leonard Koppett in the ’70s. This concept states that if a team from the American Football Conference (AFC) wins, then it will be a bear market (or down market), but if a team from the National Football Conference (NFC) or a team that was in the NFL before the NFL/AFL merger it will be a bull market (up market).

This phenomenon has an amazing success rate: 82%. In fact, the winning NFL team has tracked how the markets fared the last seven years in a row, as well as for 40 of all 49 Super Bowl years.

There is obviously no correlation between which team wins the Super Bowl and how the stock market will do that year, but an 82% success rate is quite impressive. Thus, I had no problem rooting for the Denver Broncos this year, and while the market is down so far this year, I am quite sure that it has nothing to do with Denver’s victory.

However, I am guessing that someone somewhere is looking for a way to build an argument as to why the conference that wins the Super Bowl has an affect on the stock market.

I wonder what else is related to the outcome of the Super Bowl?

Here are some suggestions for possible study:

  • What happens to the divorce rate in the Super Bowl cities?
  • What happens to the BMI of people living in the Super Bowl cities?
  • If an NFC team wins, is an NL baseball team more likely to win the World Series?
  • If an NFC team wins, are there be more hurricanes that summer?
  • In a Presidential election year, if an NFC team wins, are the Republicans more likely to win the White House?
  • If an AFC team wins, is there an increase int eh number of dogs adopted that year.

That list should keep the economists busy for a while.

In the meantime, if you don’t want to get the flu, you may want to consider moving to Philadelphia 🙁

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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