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Monday, February 6, 2006

Debunking the “Day of Dread”

Posted by on February 6 at 12:28 PM

From Dan’s post:

Considering the supposed connection between the Super Bowl and domestic violence, which may or may not have been debunked (someone Google it and email me what you find), aren’t commercials that make light of men doing grave bodily harm to women in poor taste?

The backstory: In 1993, a coalition of women’s groups held a press conference announcing that a study had uncovered a 40 percent upsurge in emergency-room admissions for domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. The media quickly seized on the “Abuse Bowl” claim. The Boston Globe, for example, reported that women’s shelters and hotlines are “flooded with more calls from victims [on Super Bowl Sunday] than on any other day of the year,” while a wire story claimed that Super Bowl Sunday “has become a day of terror for thousands of women nationwide. According to women’s groups, the day now ranks as one of the worst days in the year for violence against women in the home.”

Only one reporter, Ken Ringle of the Washington Post, bothered to call the sociologist who had done the study, Janet Katz, to check the facts behind the activists’ alarming claims. According to Ringle’s story, Katz told him, “That’s not what we found at all.”

One of the most notable findings, [Katz] said, was that an increase of emergency room admissions “was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general, nor with watching a team lose.” When they looked at win days alone, however, they found that the number of women admitted for gunshot wounds, stabbings, assaults, falls, lacerations and wounds from being hit by objects was slightly higher than average. But certainly not 40 percent.

So: Football does not incite men to violence. Alarmist urban legends tend to take on a life of their own, however, and the “Abuse Bowl” myth persists to this day.

CommentsRSS icon

I wish I had something to direct your browser to in order to confirm this, but I distinctly remember researching this very legend over a decade ago and finding something that confirmed quite the opposite: a study in Israel found that domestic violence, and indeed ALL kinds of violent crime, were dramatically reduced during the closest thing they have to a Super Bowl (an Israeli European Cup soccer game). Seems all the abusers and other crims were glued to their sets, too busy to perpetrate evil.

There is nobody at The Stranger more gullible than Dan Savage. I hate to say it, 'cause I love the guy, but it's true.

Did you hear the one about Dan's buyer's remorse with the Iraq war, or after giving money to Greg Nickels' campaign, and then wanting it back?

Same story. Whether it's the mayor saying he supports the monorail or the neocons saying the war will spread democracy or some rumor mill saying there's lots of domestic violence on Superbowl Sunday, poor Dan will fall for it.

I believe in him though, and I think he's going to wise up real soon now. Life is a learning process for each of us, and that's a good thing.

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