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So this one is a bit of a technicality. Of course the Super Bowl is among the biggest beer-drinking days of the year, but if I were to ask you where it placed on the list, what would be your guess? It's pretty clear from the opening of this paragraph that it's not first, but still, football and beer go together like football and beer, and this is the biggest football day of all, so it's at least top five, right?
Actually, when it comes to the days when the most beer is consumed in this country, Super Bowl Sunday lands at a dismal eighth place on the list. Quick! Tell me the seven days ahead of it! I'll give you a month!
I'd give you a month because I assume that's about how long it would take before anyone came forward with guesses like "Easter" or "Father's Day," the latter of which turns up at an astounding #4 on the list.
So, if you're ever wondering how miserable you make your father's life, it's approximately "fourth place on the drunkest days of the year list" miserable.
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This isn't that surprising when you take the sales pattern of beer in general into account. In the early part of the year, sales are always at their lowest. They gradually increase as the weather gets warmer, hitting their peak sometime in the summer. In other words, underlying any statistic about beer sales is a core demographic that drinks solely in accordance with the changing seasons. It doesn't matter what's on television, it doesn't matter what holiday it may be -- as the days get hotter, more and more people use it as a reason to start drinking. If the Fourth of July were in February, it would probably be 10th on the list of beer holidays instead of first.
Also, how much shittier would fireworks be if we had to watch them in the winter?
The reported increase in spousal abuse rates on Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most misunderstood "myths" of all time. On the countless lists that cover Super Bowl lore, this one is almost always held up as an example of one of the more hysterical and absurd legends, one that was proven false almost as soon as it was put forth. No matter what Snopes might imply, though, it's simply not true that this myth has been debunked.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a link between Super Bowl Sunday and domestic violence has been definitively proven, just that laughing it off as mass hysteria hasn't been proven to be the correct course of action either.
This "myth" dates back to the 1993 Super Bowl. You know the one ...
In the run up to that game, a group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) convinced the NFL to air a public service announcement reminding viewers that domestic violence is a crime. If that sounds like feminist bullying, keep in mind that the networks were required to air a PSA during the Super Bowl at that time. Lots of groups lobbied to have their cause be the one that was represented; it just so happened that a domestic violence group was selected that year.
A few days after that ad aired, an article appeared in the Washington Times by a writer named Ken Ringle, who questioned the validity of claims that spousal abuse increases on Super Bowl Sunday. He was praised at the time for doing the reporting work that others who covered the claim didn't. Among his supporters was Rush Limbaugh, in case you're looking for clues as to where I'm headed with this story.
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If anyone is in the pocket of the pro-wife beating lobby, I suspect it's this guy.
Here's the problem: Ringle didn't debunk anything reported by FAIR. As various media outlets began repeating the domestic violence claim, a wild statistic popped up showing that domestic violence increased by an astounding 40 percent on game day. That is the statistic that has been debunked, but the first place it surfaced was in Ringle's article. FAIR never actually quoted this statistic in their PSA or in the negotiations with NBC to have it aired. Ringle just sort of attributed it to them so he'd have something to contest. Throughout his "debunking" of FAIR's claim, it's this one figure that is returned to whenever an expert is asked to weigh in.
After shooting down that phantom statistic, he criticized the remainder of FAIR's evidence as anecdotal. That's the second problem with the debunking theory. FAIR was actually the first to describe their evidence showing that claims of spousal abuse increase on Super Bowl Sunday as anecdotal. They were basing their claim on firsthand accounts from people who worked in women's shelters. Again, no one was saying the incidents increased by 40 percent, only that there was, historically, an increase in the number of calls or claims from women on that day.
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"If the Broncos don't start converting on third down, I'm fucked."
Ringle fought back with a claim or two from people who worked at shelters who said, as far as they knew, there was no increase where they worked during that particular Super Bowl. Not to be a purist about it or anything, but that's also anecdotal evidence.
In later interviews with the experts Ringle contacted to "debunk" the claims made by FAIR, it was revealed that only one of the four even agreed with the main point of his article. Among the hard-hitting evidence he provided was this quote:
"Super Bowl Sunday is one day in the year when hot lines, shelters, and other agencies that work with battered women get the most reports and complaints of domestic violence."
Ringle reported that the person this quote was attributed to didn't recall saying it, but then adds that he did say something very similar, which was this:
"Super Bowl Sunday is one of the days in the year when hot lines, shelters, and other agencies that work with battered women get the most reports and complaints of domestic violence."
That's the same fucking quote! In both cases, it's pretty clear they're saying that it's just one of the busiest days, not the busiest. Another expert who was quoted in Ringle's article as saying "You know I hate this" said he was actually referring to Ringle's line of questioning.
"It's you I hate!"
He described Ringle as "hostile" and, on the same day he was quoted in Ringle's debunking article, went on record in another publication to assert that the PSA probably saved lives.
In other words, if you take that questionable "40 percent" statistic out of the discussion, Ringle didn't really disprove anything, because FAIR never reported anything that could be definitively proven either way. None of this is new information, by the way. A woman named Laura Flanders explained all of this almost as quickly as the "debunking" started making the rounds, but for some reason, that part of the legend always gets left out.
Personally, I'm inclined to believe that there probably is an increase in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. I base that on another rage-related statistic -- traffic accidents. In the hour immediately after the Super Bowl, death by car accident goes up by a whopping 41 percent. Is that because everyone is drunk driving? That probably has something to do with it, but keep in mind, Super Bowl Sunday is the eighth biggest day for drinking beer. People are drunk, but not a lot drunker than on any other "holiday." Something else is at work behind those numbers, and my guess is that something is probably rage. Losing always sucks, and given how much money is bet on the Super Bowl each year, losing probably sucks for a lot of people even if they didn't have a team in the game.
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"Gambling never leads to violence!"
So all of that alcohol and rage and anger come to a head when the angry drivers of the world hit the streets, causing them to die at a much higher rate than usual. It's an increase of such proportions that it borders on being unbelievable, and it's probably the best indicator available of what a Super Bowl loss does to some fans' frame of mind.
Clearly, a Super Bowl loss brings out the very worst in the road ragers of the world, but for some reason, we're supposed to accept it as fact that the spousal abuse set has found a way to keep the obviously overwhelming influence of the Super Bowl on one's mood from impacting them in the slightest. Road ragers may die in droves after the Super Bowl, but spousal abusers always keep their cool.
Sorry, Snopes, I don't fucking buy it.