Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Hi everyone -

A common "fact" that is circulated in IPV conversations is that Superbowl Sunday is the day of the highest incidence of violence against women. I was once told this by a professor of mine, and because I respected her and her creditability, I believed her.

However, upon further investigation, it appears this notion is controversial. It is a good example of examining our firmly held beliefs in regards to violence and trauma, and weighing our experience with evidence, or at least being open to alternative proposals and explanations.

Of course, there are many reasons why this assertion would make sense - alcohol, a violent sport, testosterone - all might add some apparent creditability to this claim. However, especially in the area of violence and trauma, we have to be careful about the assertions we make, and there are also those waiting in the wings with counter evidence...

Here is the story, presented from many different sides.


A VERY critical view of this assertion can be found in the story - Super Bull Sunday



A Response from FAIR, the group accused of distorting the "facts" -

Is Super Bowl Sunday one of the worse days of the year for domestic violence in homes around the United States, or is it just another urban legend?

Recently, About's Urban Legend Guide David Emery, who does an excellent job of tracking the latest myths and hoaxes perpetrated on the Internet and beyond, promoted an article on Super Bowl Sunday Folklore in which he referred to the fact that more women are abused on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day as one of those "larger-than-life 'urban beliefs' in the U.S."

Emery's article pointed to Cecil "The Straight Dope" Adams' column that supposedly "debunked" the claim that domestic violence increases on Super Bowl Sunday, a story that has been making the rounds since the Super Bowl of 1993.

How did all of this controversy begin and what is the truth of the matter? Does domestic violence increase during America's unofficial national football holiday, or not?

The story began in 1993 when Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) convinced the NBC Television network to run a public service announcement prior to the start of the Super Bowl broadcast. The announcement warned: "Domestic violence is a crime."

Debunking the Debunkers
Shortly after the game ended a bevy of reporters, from Ken Ringle of the Washington Post to Rush Limbaugh, attempted to "debunk" FAIR's effort to call attention to a crisis that, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, claims thousands of women's lives per year.

The debunkers charged that FAIR had claimed that "national studies" supported their assertions, that FAIR made "predictions" of Super Bowl Sunday violence using false statistics, and that FAIR had "acknowledged" that its evidence was largely "anecdotal."

But FAIR denied any accusations that it distorted the facts and figures. In an article by Laura Flanders headlined Super Bowl Success Sparks Good Ol' Boys' Backlash, FAIR said when negotiating with NBC to run the PSA they referred to no national studies or statistics on the subject and made no predictions. In fact, FAIR told NBC that studies on domestic violence are gravely underfunded and understudied.

" 'Anecdotal' was the word used in countless interviews by FAIR; stories from women on the front lines were something that made the campaign stronger, not something anyone was forced to 'acknowledge,' " wrote Flanders.

What is the bottom line on this issue? Flanders' article spelled it out: "Workers at women's shelters, and some journalists, have long reported that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the year's worst days for violence against women in the home. FAIR hoped that the broadcast of an anti-violence PSA on Super Sunday, in front of the biggest TV audience of the year, would sound a wake-up call for the media, and it did."

That PSA saved lives, Flanders said.


A more balanced yet still skeptical view -

From the Family Violence Prevention Fund Webpage

Domestic Violence & The Super Bowl:
The Myth
February 1, 2005

On February 6, millions of people will tune in to watch Super Bowl XXXIX. In the past, Super Bowl Sunday has been a time of public debate over the prevalence of domestic violence in our communities. At times, domestic violence experts and those working to help victims have been criticized, in part because of decade-old claims that abuse increases on game day.

Two 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, and telling women to “relax and enjoy the game.”

This week, the Lansing State Journal carried a column on the Super Bowl “hoax.” It said, in part, this “month brings the anniversary of feminists depicting Super Bowl Sunday as the annual high-water mark for the beating of American women by their husbands and boyfriends. Feminists find this self-evident, since on that day men celebrate the testosterone-besotted violence of professional football . . . Lies about domestic violence only serve to trivialize a serious problem.”

Others have referred to the claim that domestic violence increases on Super Bowl Sunday as an “urban myth” or a “noble lie.”

Today advocates stress that there is no conclusive evidence that domestic violence increases during the Super Bowl. “Violence against women is wrong whether it happens on Super Bowl Sunday or on any other Sunday,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “While there have been no rigorous national studies on whether rates of domestic violence increase during the Super Bowl, we do know that women are beaten and killed every day by the men in their lives – whether there is a football game or not.”

The Myth

The Super Bowl and domestic violence probably became entwined in Americans’ minds in 1993, when advocates helped convince the NBC television network to broadcast a public service announcement (PSA) on domestic violence during its Super Bowl coverage. The PSA featured a well-dressed man sitting in a jail cell saying, “I didn’t think you’d go to jail for hitting your wife.” Afterwards, the announcer said, “Domestic violence is a crime.”

While many commentators applauded NBC’s decision to air the PSA, others claimed the network had been coerced by inflated claims about Super Bowl Sunday being “a day of dread” for battered women – a day when abuse increases. That same year, in a front page story entitled, “Debunking the ‘Day of Dread’ for Women,” Washington Post reporter Ken Ringle quoted experts and battered women’s advocates saying there was no discernible increase in battering on Super Bowl Sunday, or on any days when football games are played. Some later claimed that Ringle had taken their remarks out of context.

Conflicting Data

Although there are claims linking sports broadcasts to increased violence and abuse, no rigorous national studies have confirmed a link.

A limited study conducted 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 researchers at Indiana University Bloomington, which examined police reports of domestic violence incidents in 14 cities, found a small increase on Super Bowl Sunday, but the increase was much smaller than on holidays such as Christmas or Memorial Day.

Athletes and Violence

Due in part to incidents of violence involving Kobe Bryant, University of Colorado football players and other athletes, public attention may once again turn to the link between professional sports and violence against women this week.

“Because professional athletes are so much in the public eye, if they do commit violence against women, the media tends to report it,” said Soler. “But, as public figures, athletes are in a unique position to take a stand against violence, and many are doing just that. We commend the professional athletes who are helping to raise awareness about abuse and doing their part to end violence against women and children.”


A 2008 study at Indiana Bloomington University found that the relationship between televised football and DV might be less prevalent than previous reports would suggest...actually they found that ANTICIPATION of a game, rather than the game itself, may be associated with domestic violence...

Part of the reason this link may have been made also involves the studied relationship between soccer games in Europe and violence. However, although it was hypothesized that the LOSERS would be more violent, a study suggests that it is actually WINNING that promotes incidents of violence...!


So, what do you think?

No comments:

Who Are You? (check all that apply)

How did you find this blog?

Trauma and Recovery

Trauma and Recovery
by Judith Lewis Herman

Don't Hit My Mommy

Don't Hit My Mommy
by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn

Violence: A National Epidemic

Violence: A National Epidemic
by James Gilligan


Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
from the cover of "Infidel"