Snopes.com does the grunt work of dispelling a common Super Bowl-era myth: That domestic violence calls skyrocket on America’s best-attended holiday.
Turns out, the myth started in 1993, when a coalition of women’s groups organized a conference call with reporters to relay anecdotal evidence and supposed survey data that shelters saw escalations in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday, often by 40%. In the next few weeks, newspaper after newspaper, including the Boston Globe and New York Times, ran with it.
Only one reporter, Ken Ringle of the Washington Post, bothered to check the facts. He found the author of the academic study cited during the conference call, who told him the groups had things mixed up. He also contacted a professor who’d been quoted as saying Super Bowl Sunday is the “one day of the year” when phone lines light up at domestic violence organizations. He said he was misquoted.
Ringle contacted the Globe reporter, Linda Gorov, who admitted she hadn’t read the study she summarized in her story, but pointed her to other people who had told her. None of those people could verify the information, including a Denver psychologist who appeared on “Good Morning America” the day after the news conference to discuss the phenomenon.
In the end, there was almost no evidence whatsoever that domestic abuse rises on Super Bowl Sunday, but by that point the meme was out there. If you look closely, you can still see it pop its head up once in a while. When you do, smack it (but not your wife).
Super Bull Sunday [Snopes]