Claim: Denver Is Meaner on Days the Broncos Play

Photo by Philip Poston
Thanks to a scheduled bye, your Denver Broncos didn't play a game this weekend, and based on a telling conversation I overheard while eavesdropping yesterday morning, October 8, as reporters are wont to do, the Mile High City was nicer as a result.

The speaker was a deli-counter employee at my friendly neighborhood King Soopers, where my wife and I were shopping, and my ears definitely perked up upon overhearing him tell another customer, "When the Broncos are playing, people can be mean." Folks tend to be shorter-tempered on Broncos game days even before kickoff, he went on. In fact, he said, a lot of them are ruder before, during and after the contest in question — and in contrast, they're a lot more pleasant when the Broncos have the week off.

These claims definitely jibed with my observations — or at least some of them. For instance, we try to avoid buying groceries immediately before games because the stores are usually packed with frantic patrons trying to pick up supplies and get home before any of the action starts. Worse, a lot of them tend to behave like drivers on a crowded highway during a rainy rush hour, using their carts to cut off other shoppers or silently fuming behind that dumbass who's examining every last can of pork and beans while blocking the entire aisle.

Mr. Deli Counter's assertions also made sense to me when they were applied to Broncos losses — and I needed to look no further than a mirror for a perfect example. After the team failed to best the Buffalo Bills last month in a match-up marked by a devastating penalty based on a Von Miller joke, I was snappy, sharp-tongued and basically a jerk until I was quite properly called on my shit.

People can be crazy inside Mile High Stadium on game day — and outside it, too.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Plenty of studies have documented the negative consequences of a loss on fans. Example: An analysis by David Card and Gordon Dahl published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics showed that a 10 percent domestic-violence-report spike can occur in the immediate aftermath of an NFL franchise's defeat during the regular season, and that number can be twice as high during the playoffs.

But what about following a victory? After all, Denverites were absolutely overjoyed in the wake of the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 win a couple of years back, and the joy seemed to vibrate through the community for weeks. Yet that may be an exception to the rule. A report about the effect watching sports has on our collective mind and bodies talks about increases in neural activity, rises in the production of testosterone and other hormones and a ratcheting-up of assorted stressors that can produce a volatile blend no matter the outcome, especially when mixed with the copious amounts of alcohol plenty of us consume over the course of a game.

Given these factors, I can absolutely understand why the citizenry as a whole would be mellower on a Broncos-free weekend. And as one of those who'll be glued to the tube next Sunday night, when Miller and company take on the New York Giants, I'll do my damnedest to keep my football-fueled passions under control from here on out.

It's the least I can do for King Soopers employees.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts