…you can’t blame Wes Welker. Lest you believe tonight’s heroics of Eli Manning and Mario Manningham are a prelude to wife-beating in towns from Foxboro to Fitchburg, The Guardian’s Michael Solomon reminds us the decades old claim that “Domestic Violence Is Highest on Super Bowl Sunday”, in not based in truth.
How did shoddy science about such an important topic come to be so widely reported? Christina Hoff Sommers retraced the story in her book Who Stole Feminism? In 1993, a few days before Super Bowl XXXVII, a network of women’s groups held a press conference in Pasadena, California, to announce that Super Bowl Sunday was “the biggest day of the year for violence against women.”
Citing several studies—including one by Old Dominion University—and backed up by a representative by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), there was enough anecdotal evidence on the topic to inspire newspaper stories and TV segments. Within days, the New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte referred to the game as “Abuse Bowl” and Good Morning America did a piece connecting the game to violence against women.
Later that week, Ken Ringle, a reporter for the Washington Post, looked into the evidence behind this “day of dread” and found that none existed. The Old Dominion study actually contradicted the reported findings of spousal abuse, and other sources denied similar facts that were attributed to them.
Retractions connecting the Super Bowl and domestic violence were printed, but nearly 20 years later, the myth lives on.