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Comparison of Total and Cardiovascular Death Rates in the Same City During a Losing Versus Winning Super Bowl Championship

      The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were changes in death rates when a local football team participated in the Super Bowl. Los Angeles (LA) played in the Super Bowl twice: on January 20, 1980 (LA Rams vs Pittsburgh Steelers, which LA lost), and on January 22, 1984 (LA Raiders vs Washington Redskins, which LA won). Data from LA County were analyzed for all-cause and circulatory death rates for the Super Bowl and the following 14 days when LA played (Super Bowl–related days) and control days (from January 15 to the end of February for 1980 to 1983 and 1984 to 1988). The Super Bowl–related days during LA's losing 1980 game were associated with higher daily death rates in LA County (per 100,000 population) for all deaths (2.4482 vs 2.0968 for control days, p <0.0001), circulatory deaths (1.3024 vs 1.0665 for control days, p <0.0001), deaths from ischemic heart disease (0.8551 vs 0.7143 for control days, p <0.0001), and deaths from acute myocardial infarctions (0.2710 vs 0.2322 for control days, p = 0.0213). In contrast, the Super Bowl–related days during the winning 1984 game were associated with a lower rate of all-cause death (2.1870 vs 2.3205 for control days, p = 0.0302). In conclusion, the emotional stress of loss and/or the intensity of a game played by a sports team in a highly publicized rivalry such as the Super Bowl can trigger total and cardiovascular deaths.
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