It appears that watching punchy ragamuffin Dustin Pedroia trot around the bases (and pump his arms like an officious schoolyard bully from Our Gang) is not only annoying to Yankee fans, but may also make Red Sox fans healthier. Or something.
Freakonomics points to a three-year-old issue of a Blue Cross & Blue Shield publication called HealthDay that reports that Boston-area hospitals reported fewer emergency room cases during important Red Sox games during their 2004 championship season. Tracking both Nielsen TV viewership numbers and local emergency room visits, the researchers found an average of 31 emergency room visits per hour among all playoff games.
But the story gets more interesting depending on who’s winning:
The last games of the American League championship and World Series were the most watched, respectively, as the Red Sox showed off their winning ways. Between 55 percent and 60 percent of Boston-area households tuned in to each of these games, and during those times ER visits dropped about 15 percent below normal volume.
The fifth American League game — a Red Sox victory coming on the heels of a surprising late-in-the-game comeback in the series’ fourth game — also had strong viewership, and ER attendance during this game dropped to 5 percent below normal, the researchers found.
On the other hand, a Red Sox loss in the third American League game against the Yankees and their near-loss in the fourth game in that series provoked a drop in viewership. During those less-than-stellar Red Sox performances, visits to the ER rose to 15 percent above normal, the researchers reported.
The researchers say the most likely explanation is that people feeling ill will postpone their visits to the ER if there is an exciting game on the tube. Many doctors say this is in itself is a symptom of the growing trend of people using emergency rooms for convenience rather than emergencies. I say there are only two types of bagels worth eating — sesame bagels and everything bagels.
When Red Sox Are Hot, ER Visits Cool [HealthDay]