Does Super Bowl Sunday Have the Most Domestic Violence?


More women are victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.



Domestic violence is a problem that is all too often ignored, covered up and swept under the rug. Many well-intentioned and successful efforts have been made in recent decades to bring the issue into the public domain; to tell women that they do not have to suffer silently, helplessly and alone; to promote that there are organizations victims can turn to for help and support; and educating others to recognize the signs of abuse. Unfortunately, almost every cause includes a subset of proponents who, through either willful insincerity or outright gullibility, spread “noble lies” in furtherance of that cause. The myth of Super Bowl Sunday violence is such a noble lie.

The claim that Super Bowl Sunday is “the biggest day of the year for violence against women” is a case study of how easily an idea consistent with what people want to believe can be planted in the public consciousness and as “Fact” can be anointed even when there is little or no supporting evidence behind it. Christina Hoff Sommers chronicled a timeline of how the apocryphal statistic about domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday became widely circulated (albeit erroneously) over the course of a few days before the January 1993 Super Bowl:

Thursday, January 28th
A press conference was called by a coalition of women’s groups in Pasadena, California, the venue for the upcoming Super Bowl game. At the press conference, reporters were informed that significant anecdotal evidence points to Super Bowl Sunday being “the biggest day of the year for violence against women.” Before the conference, there were reports of a surge in calls for help from victims that day of up to 40 percent. At the conference, Sheila Kuehl of the California Women’s Law Center cited a study conducted three years earlier at Old Dominion University in Virginia, in which she found that police reports of beatings and hospitalizations in Northern Virginia rose 40 percent after the Redskins had won during the games 1988/89 season. The presence at the conference of Linda Mitchell, a representative of a media “watchdog” group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), lent credence to the matter. Around this time, a very large-scale media mailing was sent out by Dobisky Associates with a warning to women at risk: “Don’t stay at his house during the game.” The idea that sports fans tend to attack wives or girlfriends on this peak day also won over many men: Robert Lipsyte of the new York The Times would soon speak of the “Abuse Bowl”.

Friday January 29th
Lenore Walker, a Denver-based psychologist and author of The abused womanAppearing on Good Morning America, she claimed to have set a ten-year record showing a sharp rise in violent incidents against women on Super Bowl Sundays. Again, a representative of FAIR, Laura Flanders, was present to give credibility to the matter.

Saturday January 30th
A story in Boston globe Written by Linda Gorov, women’s shelters and hotlines “are being flooded with more and more calls from victims [on Super Bowl Sunday] than any other day of the year.” Gorov cited “a study of women’s shelters in the West” that “showed a 40 percent increase in calls, a pattern proponents say is being repeated nationwide, including in Massachusetts.”

Commentators were quick to offer reasons why this “fact” was so obviously true: men are mostly rowdy brutes, and football is the epitome of mindless, aggressive, violent, testosterone-fueled macho posturing, certainly during the peak of the football season and its last , spectacular, massively hyped “super” game, more men than ever before would express their excitement or disappointment by beating up their wives and girlfriends. The stories of “Super Bowl abuse” garnered so much attention that NBC aired a public service announcement before the 1993 game to remind men that domestic violence is a crime.

Ken Ringle, a reporter for the Washington PostHe was one of the few journalists who bothered to check the sources behind the stories. When he contacted Janet Katz, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University and one of the authors of the study cited during the January 28 press conference, he found:

Janet Katz, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the Old Dominion and one of the authors of that study, said, “We didn’t find that at all.” One of the most notable findings, she said, was the increase in emergency room visits “neither matched the occurrence of football games generally associated with losing a team.” However, looking only at the victorious days, they found that the number of women admitted for gunshot wounds, knife stab wounds, assault, falls, lacerations and object injuries was slightly higher than average. But certainly not 40 percent.

“These are interesting but very preliminary findings and suggest that men’s post-football violence may not stem from a sense of defensive insecurity, which you would associate with losing, but rather from a sense of empowerment following one Victory. We found that significant. But it certainly doesn’t support what these women in Pasadena are saying,” Katz said.

Likewise, Ringle verified the claim by Dobisky Associates (the organization that had sent out warnings to wives advising them not to stay home with their husbands on Super Bowl Sunday) that “Super Bowl Sunday is the only day of the year It’s where hotlines, women’s shelters, and other agencies that work with abused women receive the most reports and complaints of domestic violence.” Dobisky’s source for this quote was Charles Patrick Ewing, a professor at the University at Buffalo, but Professor Ewing said Ringle, he never said it:

“I don’t think anyone has any systematic data on this,” said Charles Patrick Ewing, a forensic psychologist and author of Battered Women Who Kill. is a day of the year when hotlines, shelters and other agencies working with abused women receive the most reports and complaints of domestic violence.”

“I never said that,” Ewing said. “I don’t know if that’s true.”

Told by Ewing’s reply, Frank Dobisky conceded that the quote should have read “one of the days of the year”. That could be one of many days of the year.

Ringle also learned that Linda Gorov, the Boston globe Reporter who wrote that shelters and hotlines “are being inundated with more and more calls from victims [on Super Bowl Sunday] than any other day of the year” had not even seen the study she had cited to support that statement, had merely been there told Linda Mitchell, the FAIR representative, who was present at the January 28 press conference that kicked off the whole issue.

did any Evidence to support the claim that Super Bowl Sunday was the leading day for domestic violence? If that Washington Post‘s Ringle tried to follow the chain by contacting FAIR’s Linda Mitchell, Mitchell said her source was Lenore Walker, the Denver-based psychologist who appeared on “Good Morning America” ​​the day after the press conference. Ms. Walker’s office referred Ringle to Michael Lindsey, another Denver psychologist who was also an authority on battered women. Mr Lindsey told Ringle that “I haven’t been more successful than you at tracking any of this down,” and asked, “Do you think we might have one of those mythical things here?”

The result? It turns out that Super Bowl Sunday in 1993 (as in other years) was not a significantly different day for those who monitor domestic violence hotlines and workers at women’s shelters for battered women:

Those who work with victims of domestic violence in Connecticut reported no increase in cases [on the day after the Super Bowl], following a flurry of publicity about the possible link between Super Bowl gatherings and domestic violence. A spike in domestic violence predicted for Super Bowl Sunday didn’t materialize in Columbus, authorities said, and others across the country said women’s rights activists were spreading the wrong message.

Despite some excitement ahead of the “Day of Scare” game for some women, the Columbus-area domestic violence counselors said so [Super Bowl] While Sunday was certainly violent for some women, it was relatively routine.

So what day of the year Is Domestic Violence Against Women Most Widespread If Not Super Bowl Sunday? It seems that domestic violence doesn’t peak on any particular day, but it does increase at certain times of the year.

For example, a 2006 study published in the Sport and Media Handbook which examined more than 1.3 million police reports of domestic violence every day of the year in 15 NFL cities, found a very small increase in domestic violence reports on (or shortly after) Super Bowl Sunday, but a nearly five-fold increase of police reports on domestic violence mark important holidays such as Christmas. A 2007 study analyzing patterns of women fleeing domestic violence found that the highest admission rates of women with children in shelters did not coincide with Super Bowl Sunday, but with breaks in the school calendar such as Christmas break, spring break, and Summer vacation (although this study examined when women were most likely to flee their abusers, rather than when they actually experienced the abuse that caused them to flee).

In the weeks and months following the 1993 Super Bowl, those who had propagated the myth of Super Bowl Sunday violence did some retractions, but as usual, the retractions and corrections received far less attention than the sensational but false stories that everyone wanted to believe, and the fake Super Bowl stats remain widely cited and believed misinformation. As Sommers concluded, “How belief in this misandristic duck can make the world a better place for women is left unexplained.”

Variations: A similar article circulated during the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament and referred to a learn by Lancaster University researchers: “Every time England lose the World Cup, domestic violence against women increases by 38%.” Does Super Bowl Sunday Have the Most Domestic Violence?

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