The Super Bowl Myth

Jan 30, 2009

On Sunday February 1, millions of people will tune in to watch the Super Bowl. In the past, Super Bowl Sunday has brought public conversation about domestic violence. Experts and those who work with victims have been criticized, in part because of 15-year-old claims that abuse increases on game day. Five years ago, for example, columnist and commentator George Will raised the issue on ABC’s This Week, criticizing “feminists” for spreading false information about a link between the Super Bowl and domestic violence. Today advocates stress that there is no conclusive evidence that domestic violence increases during the Super Bowl.

No rigorous national studies have confirmed a rise in violence on Super Bowl Sunday, despite some anecdotal evidence linking certain sporting events, including World Cup soccer matches in England, to increased violence. A small study by the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center at UCLA’s School of Public Health found that football Sundays in general are not significantly associated with increased domestic violence dispatch calls. A 2003 study by Indiana University Bloomington researchers examined police reports of domestic violence incidents in 14 cities, finding a small increase on Super Bowl Sunday – but it was a smaller increase than was seen on holidays such as Christmas and Memorial Day.