Do Sports Victories Trigger Baby Booms?
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
It’s possible sports victories trigger local baby booms. In fact, a study published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal claims just that.
On May 6, 2009, Spanish researchers wrote, Football Club Barcelona’s Andrés Iniesta scored a last minute goal against Chelsea FC, earning Barça a spot in the UEFA Champions League Final. That night, Catalonians celebrated by shooting off fireworks, and banging pots and pans, among other things. Nine months later, the Catalonian birthrate shot up 45 percent, according to an informal survey of five local hospitals.
Barcelonian researchers investigated that claim by analyzing birth statistics from two local hospitals. The stats covered 60 months between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2011, and showed an interesting result: the Catalonian birthrate shot up 16.1 percent in February 2010, and 11 percent in March 2010, leading researchers to conclude that “the heightened euphoria following a victory can cultivate hedonic sensations that result in intimate celebrations, of which unplanned births may be a consequence.”
While not scientifically investigated to the extent of Catalonia’s so-called “Iniesta generation,” other sports victories have also been fingered in local baby booms.
Take the “Red Sox phenomenon” of 2005, for instance. Nine months after the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, the Boston Globe reported anecdotal evidence that a lot of Red Sox fans had, um, banged pots and pans in celebration. (Or, alternatively, that a lot of Bostonians couldn’t sleep because of noisy partiers, and found other things to do instead.) Red Sox-branded baby clothes were flying off shelves, for example, and several fans shared their stories of MVP Manny Ramírez-inspired conception.
New Zealanders got busy after the All Blacks defeated France—in Oz—to win the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Nine months after the victory, the New Zealand Herald reported that maternity units at local hospitals were overflowing with women in labor. “A lot of my friends are due soon and we counted back and said, oh yes, the Rugby World Cup,” new mother Libby Jackson told the Herald.
As far as local baby booms go, disasters are often linked to increased birth rates. Hurricane Sandy, 9-11, and the 1965 blackout in New York City have all been tied to baby booms, though perhaps incorrectly. Researchers, for example, found Manhattan birth rates actually declined nine months after the blackout despite reports in the New York Times stating otherwise.
Media in Great Britain recently predicted both the release of 50 Shades of Grey and the birth of Prince George would create the nation’s biggest baby boom in 40 years. While those claims may prove false, researchers generally agree on one thing: the truth of the so-called “Christmas effect,” in which, as the Barcelonian researchers put it, “a sharp September spike appears nine months after the December holidays.”