This Sunday, America will be celebrating our non-official national holiday  – The Super Bowl. As clinician I sometimes get asked, “Is it true that there are more domestic violence incidents on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day?”

The Myth

I found that this myth started in 1993.  In 1993, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (“FAIR”), a national media watch group, started an initiative to show the connection between domestic violence and Super Bowl Sunday. Here is an excerpt posted on FAIR’s website, “For too many households, the violence of football’s most-watched game is not confined to the TV screen. The Super Bowl brings together many activities that may “trigger” a man predisposed to battering: intense viewing of sanctioned violence, heavy drinking, betting. Many women’s shelters report big increases in calls for help on Super Bowl day. Some shelters say they double their staff to prepare for the influx.” s. In spite of FAIR’s focus on women in their report, domestic violence impacts men, women and children.

The Problem

FAIR’s reporting of this issue seems to be based upon anecdotal stories and evidence. There is a lack of statistical data to back the claim that Super Bowl Sunday has increased domestic violence incidents. Regardless, what matters is that the FAIR report did highlight the issue of domestic violence.  Good things happened from its reporting.  We are more aware of this important issue and are taking proactive steps to prevent domestic violence.

The Good News

Here is another excerpt from FAIR’s story, “At the request of FAIR’s Women’s Desk and other advocates for women, NBC Sports aired a public service announcement (PSA) on domestic violence during the network’s coverage of this year’s Super Bowl.” From this, the NFL has seriously taken the issue of domestic violence. It has drawn attention to the issue by bringing the prevention of domestic violence into the mainstream.  This lets victims know that they are not alone.  There are groups out there to help victims, and batterers, with the goal being to break the cycle of domestic violence.

For Domestic Violence Victims and for the general public, the Super Bowl is a good time to remind all that domestic violence is also taken seriously.