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An extra thing to look out for on Super Bowl Sunday

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2006

Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 14:08

What happened in America this morning in the 15 seconds you spent throwing on your clothes before bolting out the door to class? Two infants were born, Google had 20,000 search queries - and one unlucky woman became the victim of domestic violence.

Surprised by that last one? So was I. As I horrifyingly discovered when considering the often-unacknowledged problem of domestic violence in this country-

along with the approach of Super Bowl XL, one of the most widely-viewed television events of the year-it has long been studied and proven that there is a strong correlation between violent sports viewership and domestic violence, most specifically women being physically or emotionally abused by a male partner.

In fact, a 1990 study by Old Dominion College in Virginia tracking the emergency room admissions on weekends in the state of Virginia during the Washington Redskins' regular season showed a 40 percent increase in admission of battered women. A 40 percent increase in domestic violence.

Battered women's shelters and battered women's hotlines across the nation have also reported spikes in reported cases on days when the local professional football team plays. Interestingly enough, just as many reports of domestic violence related to professional football in a certain state occurred whether the home team won or lost.

A psychological study by St. Francis University regarding violence in the media and aggressive tendencies concludes that upswing in violence often comes as a result of men feeling empowered by a recent win: They move to express this power over their partner, often physically.

On the flip side, men having just experienced a loss by their home team will feel insecure and seek to reassert themselves by bringing down their girlfriend or wife through emotional or physical abuse. Neither situation leaves victimized women better off than the other.

In 1993, shortly before that year's Super Bowl, NBC aired a 30-second public service announcement reminding men that domestic violence is a crime punishable by imprisonment.

Controversy surrounded the announcement's sponsoring organization, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), because it claimed that Super Bowl Sunday was the worst day of the year for domestic violence. The claim was debunked as an urban myth due to the fact that there had not been any comprehensive national studies preformed proving that Super Bowl Sunday was or was not the worst day for domestic violence, and thus the claim could not be verified one way or the other.

However, as controversial as it may have been, the PSA and FAIR accomplished their goal: to raise awareness about the serious problem of domestic violence. They hopefully saved the lives of many women that day.

Not to be misunderstood: I hold no opposition to professional football or the Super Bowl itself, nor do I accuse all men who watch football of being abusive, as I myself am a man and I tend to watch and enjoy the Super Bowl among friends, as many of you do.

I merely seek to raise awareness of the fact that relationship abuse is a commonly-overlooked problem in this country. As a beer-filled, testosterone-laden day where men are more prone to violence approaches, I urge all people to keep these ideas in mind.

Domestic violence is a crime, and there is help for those who have been victimized. The City of Boston Battered Women's Hotline can be reached at 800-992-2600.

Whether you intend to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday or not, the numbers do not lie, and this is a fact that warrants attention all year long. Since you picked up this article, 16 infants were born, Google has received over 160,000 search queries and eight more women have become victims of domestic violence.

Enjoy the Super Bowl responsibly and please do your part to ensure that everyone else does the same.

Dan "DP" Albert is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. He is also the vice-president of TMAC, the Tuft Men's Activist Coalition, an organization committed to promoting positive gender roles for men as well as reducing violence towards women.

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