f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 5, 2006

More Domestic Violence at Xmas than Super Bowl?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:28 pm

Domestic Violence is a serious subject — one I ran into a lot in my

decade practicing in family court.  Like all serious subjects, though,

it should be addressed without hyperbole and fear-mongering, and

certainly without distorting statistics. One of the biggest distortion

campaigns in recent years is the one stating that Super Bowl Sunday

has the highest incidence of domestic violence against women of any

day in our national calendar. 

thin winter coat

so little protection

against her boyfriend


 John Stevenson 
      Quiet Enough (Red Moon Press, 2004) 


Along with several other sources, Snopes.com has done a good job of

debunking the SB/DV link, in its “Super Bull Sunday,” which includes

a timeline by Christina Hoff Summers showing “how the apocryphal

statistic about domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday was foisted

upon the public over the course of a few days leading up to the Super

Bowl in January 1993″  — when the group FAIR convinced 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.” The Snopes piece states:

“Unfortunately, nearly every cause will encompass a sub-group

of advocates who, either through deliberate disingenuousness

or earnest gullibility, end up spreading ‘noble lies’ in the further-

ance of that cause. The myth of Super Bowl Sunday violence is

one such noble lie.”


“Sommers concluded, ‘How a belief in that misandrist canard

can make the world a better place for women is not explained’.”  

bully flip When pressed for statistics, in 1993, those who most strongly touted

the SB/DV link basically stated they never said they had statistical studies,

but only referred to anecdotal reports” from domestic violence shelters and

advocates (suggesting a 40% increase in incidents).  Statistics backing

up the link still do not exist, but we discuss a study below that rebutts it.


These debunking efforts led to many articles last January saying that

the SB/DV link is just a myth, and many again this year.  See, e.g.,

Seatlle Post-Intelligencer, “Big game, bigger urban legends,” Feb. 2,

 2006; 15Now.com, Madison, WI,  “Super Bowl/ Domestic Violence Link

a Myth;” and (with a somewhat misleading headline) Public Opinion Online,  


                                                                                                 quarterback flip


Why am I irked and writing on this topic today?  It’s because I searched

Google News for Super Bowl” +”domestic violaence“> yesterday and

found a number of results on the first two pages that linked to efforts to 

re-establish the connection.  None of them present any additional, useful

evidence or argument. 


For example, an article at the Alcoholism/Substance-Abuse section of

About.com asks “Does Domestic Violence Increase on Super Bowl

Sunday?”  In a section labelled “Debunking the Debunkers”, however,

the piece merely repeats the 1993 claims by FAIR spokesperson Laura

Flanders that the group had never claimed to have statistics or studies,

but was using anectodal evidence.  About concludes:

“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.”

femaleSymN maleSymN


Not a lot of meat there.  Nonetheless, the About.com piece ends up being

the most substantive one I could find. WFAA-TV, KVUE.com in Austin, TX,

has an online article, by Rebecca Lopez, Feb. 3, 2006. that is headlined


“This weekend may be a big one for football fans but there’s also a

darker side many people may not realize. Super Bowl Sunday is a very

busy day for domestic violence calls. Around the world – one out of every

three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in

her lifetime. Many people watched yesterday’s police car chase unfold

on television. A man holding a rifle to his girlfriend after allegedly kidnap-

ping her and her young daughter.”

Finally, on Feb. 3, KVEWtv in Washington State’s Apple Valley had a segment/

and drunk driving arrests spike during Super Bowl,” by Jessica Swain. Here is

the entire text, which never again mentions domestic violence:

“Super Bowl Sunday traditionally makes for a busy evening for law

enforcement in the Mid-Columbia. Extra Washington State troopers

will be on the highways, and police will be watching streets within city

limits looking for drunk drivers. Police say with the Seahawks in the

game this year, it’s sure to be a party in the Mid-Columbia.  “If you

start doing 2, 3, 4 drinks an hour, you’re becoming intoxicated and so

you need to monitor it and if you’re a party make sure there’s food,”

says Sgt. Ken Lattin with the Kennewick Police Dept.  


“You’ve heard it before: if you do plan to drink in Sunday, police say

plan ahead, designate a sober driver or take a cab home.”

All Hat and No Cattle.




Before I leave this topic, I want to address two more issues: First, at his

Bradley has a post today called “Regrettable side of the Super Bowl.”  

Sam presents data from a significant study headed by Walter Gantz,

that looked at the SB/DV link.  They were not able to get statistics from

women’s shelters and emergency rooms, but they did receive date-specific

information on 911 domestic violence dispatches from 15 of the 30 police

departments in NFL cities that we targeted — ending up with 26,192 days

of domestic violence data. 


Despite the headline on the post, Ganz et al. did not find a significant

showing that the Super Bowl is a domestic violence villain:

In the final analysis, we were looking at 1,366,518 separate

domestic violence dispatches. How many were statistically

related to the Super Bowl? According to our analysis, 272 of

those incidents were due to a Super Bowl falling on a given

day (we also included the day following the Super Bowl to

apture any 911 dispatches that happened after midnight since

the Super Bowl starts so late on the East coast). In the total

pool of incidents, this is a small fraction (.0199 percent); however,

for those 272 individuals, the threat is very real.


“If we look at all of the incidents on Super Bowl days, then those

272 incidents represent 6.5% of the total incidents for those days.

This is no small increase — especially for those involved. To put the

Super Bowl in perspective, however, our analysis predicted that 1,238

incidents — almost 1,000 more — were due to Christmas.”



Sam explains further: “In the end, the Super Bowl does not look like a Super

villain. Instead, it looks a lot like a holiday. The Super Bowl puts more people

together and sprinkles in alcohol. In the final piece, we wrote:

 “Viewed from this perspective, it appears that the Super Bowl has

all of the elements to spark holiday-related domestic violence: increased

expectations, close domestic interaction, and alcohol consumption.”

An earlier press release for their preliminary study said it well:

“Previous studies have raised concerns about a pattern of violent behavior

against women around the time of the Super Bowl. But the preliminary

study . .  found that the number of cases that day was relatively small

compared to those reported on holidays such as Christmas or Memorial


The report on this study will soon appear in Handbook of sports and media,

A. A. Raney & J. Bryant (Eds.), in a chapter entitled “Televised NFL games, the

family, and domestic violence,” Gantz, W., Bradley, S. D., & Wang, Z. (2006).




One last issue, is a question: Just what would those who see a major link

between the Super Bowl and Domestic Violence have us do?  Most important,

what would they have “high-risk” women do?   Tell their significant other they

will be on guard, invite protectors to their home, pack a weapon?   Today, at her

Banned Breed weblog, Raine Devries has a post called “Serious Sunday,” where

she states (emphasis added): 

“Before I get to the heart of today’s opinion, I would like to mention

that on Super Bowl Sunday, there are higher than normal reports

of domestic violence. If you or someone you know is at risk today,

please invite them to a film, go to a restaurant, or just get together and

watch something on TV — just get them out of the line of fire for a few hours.”

That sounds to me like a recipe for turning what could be an enjoyable day for a

couple into a major sore spot — before and after the woman gets home.  If the male  

is drunk, and either unhappy or empowered by the results of the Game, the “today,

I’m really afraid of you” posture does not seem to be desirable or beneficial.


As I said at the top, Domestic Violence is serious business. It deserves serious,

frank discussion, treatment and action.




            superbowl sunday…

                    the priest presents a sermon

                         on paganism








                  momentum shifts

                     to the bookie


        ed markowski 










now that I have

turned off the television

the winter night


      Quiet Enough (Red Moon Press, 2004) 



tiny check Find out why the flatulence is lethal

on Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl Party –

the aging bachelor

brings the Beano




.                                                                                                                        “snowflakeS”

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