News You Can Use: No, Virginia, There Is No Increase in Domestic Violence on Super Bowl Sunday

Categories: Crime, Sports
Put on a shirt and keep your hands to yourself!
Every year around this time, you hear two sickening things about the Super Bowl:

  • A nationwide halftime stampede to the toilet overwhelms local sewage plants;
  • A nationwide orgy of beer-drinking and high-stakes football induces a cavalcade of domestic violence.
They both sound plausible -- no disrespect to Bruce Springsteen, but I'd rather miss the Boss than some game action. And the notion of liquored-up degenerates watching a violent game and turning violent themselves isn't a logical leap of faith.

Well, they're both false. But while it does little harm for ignorant folks to bandy about stories of panicked sewage workers barking "Mayday!" into walkie-talkies while wading through rivers of shit, provably false stories about domestic violence, like bogus Holocaust memoirs, do no one any damn good.

As far as the bogus element, the debunker Web site has definitively proven that the notion of a Super Bowl of domestic violence is an urban legend. What's more, research  on a potential correlation between televised football and domestic violence found that the levels recorded on Super Bowl Sunday were equal to or lower than violence reported on other "holidays" -- and far lower than Memorial Day or Christmas. From the study:

Since every holiday tested in the study except for Valentine's Day was a significant predictor of domestic violence, the Super Bowl reported here may be less of a football effect than that normally encountered with holidays.
Sometimes, however, no matter how much you debunk a falsehood, it just won't die. An official at a San Francisco women's organization told SF Weekly that the news of a domestic violence spike on Super Bowl Sunday was an established fact. She assured us that a woman is attacked every 15 seconds on gameday -- and, what's more, "wife-beater" undershirts (of the sort worn by the lout illustrating this article) gained their name due to the beer-drinking, violent men watching the Super Bowl.

Well, where to begin? First of all, a quick glance at the state's domestic violence statistics reveals that, in 2006, law-enforcement officials received 176,299 domestic violence-related calls. Doing the math, this breaks down to 483 a day or 20 an hour or about one every three minutes. So, is it rational to believe that, on Super Bowl Sunday, the rate suddenly jumps to 15 a minute -- a 45-fold increase?

As far as the origin of the term "wife-beater undershirt," it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl. It was derived from the line of folks attempting to get free tickets to The Price is Right.

On a serious note, it's ridiculous that some feel the need to wrap themselves in bullshit statistics to justify efforts to stamp out domestic violence. Is anyone in favor of domestic violence? Anyone opposed to cracking down on it? Why trade in lies when the truth is so powerful?

"People try to draw a correlation between domestic violence and lots of drinking," said Megan Koroshetz, the supervisor of San Francisco's Riley Center Community Office. "Our stance is that alcohol does not cause abuse. It may exacerbate it, but it's not the cause. There was probably domestic violence in a relationship long before Super Bowl Sunday."

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