4 Misconceptions About the Super Bowl You Probably Believe
Unless you live under a rock, you've probably noticed that the Super Bowl, America's biggest sporting event, is about to happen.
It's one of America's favorite traditions. Even if you can't stand football, perhaps you still tune in each year to watch the halftime show and of course, the commercials.
— katie benner (@ktbenner) January 27, 2014
It's also a national tradition to trash Super Bowl Sunday.
— James Crombie (@jtcrombie) January 31, 2014
Is the increase during the Super Bowl in domestic violence fact or fiction?
— LJ Kaufman (@LJKaufman1) January 31, 2014
— YWCA Canada (@YWCA_Canada) January 29, 2014
But are these accusations legit? We've taken a look at the four biggest charges against the Super Bowl to see if they hold any water.
Myth #1: Prostitution and human trafficking increase during the Super Bowl.
— Nayoung Won (@theyoungwon) January 31, 2014
Any giant sport event is going to attract some criminal activity, and the Super Bowl is definitely no exception.
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) January 30, 2014
The ring pictured above planned to sell Super Bowl attendees "party packs" of drugs and prostitutes. During last year's Super Bowl, the ring made over $3 million, and they definitely weren't the only group offering these services.
So people are understandably nervous about it, especially politicians in the state where the game is going to happen.
— Rep. Chris Smith (@RepChrisSmith) January 30, 2014
But does that mean the Super Bowl is a hotbed for sex trafficking? The answer is no, at least according to the people who study sex trafficking.
— Laura Agustín (@LauraAgustin) January 7, 2014
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women concluded that traffickers would not make a profit — even a short-term one — from the big game.
So why is this myth so widely believed?
Partly because people in power keeping saying it's real. In 2011, when the Super Bowl was held in Dallas, the state's Attorney General called the Super Bowl the largest sex trafficking event in the United States. All in all, zero people were arrested for sex trafficking in Dallas during the Super Bowl.
But, the myth creates a convenient moral excuse for politicians who want to crack down on immigration.
— Daniel Victor (@bydanielvictor) January 29, 2014
What does happen is that local prostitutes in the city hosting a Super Bowl see an upswing in clients. That's a big problem by itself, but it's very different from sex trafficking, which involves transporting people into the state for the purpose of exploiting them.
Myth #2: Super Bowl ads are hypersexual, sexist and not family-friendly.
It's been 10 years since Janet Jackson showed the world her nipple at the Super Bowl !! pic.twitter.com/t2i13NTzjm
— MacTen (@soufside214) January 30, 2014
It may have been true in years past, but this year could be different.
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) January 31, 2014
If you're like us, one of the main reasons to watch the Super Bowl is to see commercials that cost millions of dollars. Sometimes they're awesome ... and sometimes they're not.
From objectifying women to public wardrobe malfunctions, the Super Bowl has delivered some awfully sexist and overly sexual ads. Last year had some real doozies, but the worst was probably the Audi "Prom" commercial that romanticized sexual assault.
It says a great deal about our culture that these advertisements brought in record sales for companies like GoDaddy. But all that may be changing.
Oakland’s GoldieBlox Wins Contest For Free Super Bowl Ad: An company based in the Bay Area whose mission is to... http://t.co/O0WJ4OCd8U
— Richmond SF News (@RichmondSFNews) January 31, 2014
To help promote a healthier view of women, companies like Axe that usually rely on hoards of bikini-clad women for their ads are now showcasing themes like peace and war.
Viewers can also wage their own fight against sexism in Super Bowl ads by downloading the "Not Buying It" ap.
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) January 28, 2014
It allows people to chronicle and share sexist ads to let companies know when they've screwed up.
— janniaragon (@janniaragon) January 31, 2014
Myth #3: Concussions are still a huge problem in the NFL.
MUST READ: 85% of NFL players polled said they would play in a Super Bowl with a concussion >> http://t.co/mbV98NJvSi
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 28, 2014
Actually, concussions are down this year, but a real solution is still a long way off.
Photo: NFL SAYS NUMBER OF CONCUSSION DOWN 13 PERCENT IN 2013 The NFL says the number of concussions in... http://t.co/4zxPczQjUj
— Kickoff Coverage (@KickoffCoverage) January 31, 2014
In football, you get knocked around a lot. Your body can more or less deal with that, but your brain is another story. NFL players who get multiple concussions are more likely to be stricken with clinical depression and dementia later in life. They're also more likely to commit suicide.
The NFL got slapped with a major lawsuit last year because of it.
— Bern Terry (@BernTerry) January 31, 2014
It's so bad that some people think concussions will eventually end football.
— Psychonautic Express (@PNauticExpress) January 20, 2014
But things may be changing. In the last year, concussions have actually dropped 13 percent among NFL players.
The NFL is also promoting a healthier attitude toward concussion safety with new safety standards and head-protection technology.
Mississippi passed its youth concussion law yesterday, giving all 50 states laws that protect young athletes. http://t.co/lb9jaFUHNG
— NFL Health & Safety (@NFLHealthSafety) January 31, 2014
But it looks like most players would still run the risk of a concussion if it got them into the Super Bowl.
— FASST Performance (@fasst21) January 30, 2014
At the end of the day, football culture celebrates enduring punishing injuries, and that includes concussions. This is a serious danger for adult players, but especially for teens and even children who are giving themselves brain trauma during their developmental years.
— Andre LaRenzie (@ststuttarhymes) January 25, 2014
Myth #4: Domestic violence spikes during the Super Bowl.
This is the only accusation without a grain of truth. Of course instances of domestic violence occur on Super Bowl Sunday, but that violence is part of a cycle of manipulation and abuse. The game itself doesn't trigger it.
The myth that the Super Bowl is a flashpoint for domestic violence that sees record numbers of women fleeing to shelters is rooted in a sensational reporting scandal from 1993 that promoted the image of football fans as drunken, aggressive spousal abusers.
— SPAN (@FollowSPAN) January 31, 2014
The reporting was based on anecdotal data, but that didn't stop the myth from growing over time. At least one study from 2006 found no significant spike in domestic violence dispatches on Super Bowl Sunday.
Tens of thousands of people are victims of domestic abuse every year, and it's important to not forget about them ... but the myth about the Super Bowl jeopardizing their safety is, fortunately, just a myth.
Images used under Creative Commons licensing.
Eli is a freelance writer and researcher in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area. He previously worked for the San Francisco Magazine as an intern and fellow. At UC Santa Cruz, Eli was the managing editor for City on a Hill Press, the student-run weekly newspaper. He’s an early riser who completes more crossword puzzles before 6 a.m. than most people attempt all day. Follow: @eliwolfe4.