Super Bowl Sunday is a day of bigs — big game, big halftime show, big bets, and big parties. It’s also a day of some pretty big claims. An event as huge and as popular as the Super Bowl is bound to have its share of tall tales, some more ridiculous than others. And they can be pretty convincing; so much so that they’re generally accepted as true. But they’re still a bunch of exaggerations and misconceptions. Here are ten of the most talked-about Super Bowl myths, and why they aren’t true:
The simultaneous flushing of millions of toilets during the Super Bowl causes massive damage to your city’s water main. — Here’s a favorite to start things off: it’s widely believed that the sheer amount of people who use the toilet during halftime and at the end of the game causes an enormous portion of water to be flushed, bringing loads of damage to the cities’ water mains. The logic is sound; after all, a lot of people do use the toilet during the game, and all those hundreds of thousands of gallons of water rushing down the pipes have got to do some damage, right? Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately), that isn’t the case.
Like any red-blooded American, you’ve probably been to your share of Super Bowl parties. You’ve also probably noticed that everyone doesn’t just hop into the bathroom when the game’s done. Some of you wait for the others to finish, while some of you don’t even have to go. And even then, coverage for the Super Bowl features countless advertisements, and a lot of people have the sense to heed nature’s call durng those breaks. The same follows everywhere else — the toilet just isn’t being used by everyone at the same time, and certainly not to the degree that’ll cause serious harm to the water mains. In fact, there has been only one case in which a water main suffered significant damage during the Super Bowl (1984, in Salt Lake City), and that was more likely a result of coincidence rather than widespread toilet use.
The team that wins the Super Bowl is a good indicator of the year’s stock market performance. — The theory is as follows: if an AFC team wins the Super Bowl, the market will perform poorly; if an NFC team wins, the market enjoys a good year. While this may all seem like superstition, the evidence proves otherwise — the myth has shown an impressive success rate of 80%. That means four out of five times, the results of the Super Bowl have accurately predicted whether or not the stock market will be successful in the coming year.
Of course, that’s all it still really boils down to — superstition. There is no way that the winner of the Super Bowl can dictate the success of the stock market; there isn’t even any connection between the two. The whole thing is just like believing that your crazy old uncle can predict the weather based on how his big toe feels. Then again, who’s going to argue with a man who’s right most of the time? People stick with the Super Bowl “prediction” because of the same train of thought.
If you’re really that concerned about stock market performance, you could always just look at the market’s performance in January. Since the 1950′s, its performance in January has pretty much predicted the rest of its behavior for the rest of the year, to an accuracy rate of a whopping 92.5%. Maybe the Super Bowl indicator’s riding on the back of this one?
Super Bowl Sunday accounts for two-thirds of all avocado sales in the country. — One of the best-loved, and not to mention tasty, Super Bowl traditions out there has got to be the bowls upon bowls of guacamole being served at parties. You can find the delicious dip on the table in thousands of homes across the country. No matter what you dip in it — nachos, chips, or even your buffalo wings — the green goo is always something people look forward to come Super Bowl Sunday.
It’s only natural, then, that avocado sales skyrocket in the weeks that precede the big game. After all, party hosts are going to be making guacamole for a LOT of people. However, the sales don’t really make up for two-thirds of annual avocado sales, as many people would believe. Americans love their guacamole, and not just on Super Bowl Sunday. The massive spike in avocado sales in anticipation of the game only account for roughly 5% of annual sales. That share doesn’t seem so small, though, when you realize that 5% means roughly 8 MILLION pounds of avocado are being bought, chopped up, and dipped into for the Super Bowl.
Impressive as it may seem, the amount of avocados purchased for Super Bowl Sunday still don’t make it the number one avocado event in the country. The winner? None other than Cinco de Mayo, which sells a whopping 14 million pounds of avocado.
The number of people staying home on Super Bowl Sunday turns Disneyland into a relative ghost town. — Look ma, no lines! Word has it that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the best times of the year to go and have some fun at Disneyland. Since football nuts all around the country are at home yelling at their televisions, the Happiest Place on Earth is vacated. The truth is, however, that Super Bowl Sunday crowds are pretty much the same size as the ones on any given Sunday in the month. January is normally one of the popular tourist attraction’s slower months, reporting a general decrease in attendance with or without the Super Bowl going on.
In fact, Super Bowl Sunday might turn out to be the amusement park’s busiest Sunday of the month! As shocking as it may seem, but not everyone in the country is into football, and as far as they know, everyone else is. That means that these people are all thinking that Disneyland will be relatively empty on Super Bowl Sunday, and so everyone heads there on the same day. So much for avoiding the crowds!
Spousal abuse and domestic violence see a large increase during Super Bowl Sunday — The Super Bowl is an intensely emotional affair, with everything from a referee’s bad call to the outcome of the game threatening to put people in a foul mood. Unfortunately, some people aren’t as good at controlling their tempers as others are, and so they end up doing things they’ll eventually regret. This sort of thing is pretty common, and you’re bound to hear a story or two of a bad game ending in domestic violence.
As plausible as this all may seem, there isn’t any conclusive evidence that proves that Super Bowl Sunday results in a larger-than-average amount of domestic violence cases. As eager as we are to believe that there are a bunch of brutish fans out there crazy enough to cause serious problems when their team loses, that just isn’t the case. Sure, there might be some violence involved, but it’s usually directed more at the furniture than anything (or anyone) else. The rest of the time, football fans are pretty much cool cats, preferring to let their frustrations out in tantrums filled with very colorful language.
Super Bowl host cities make a ton of money from the event. — For every major event, there are fans. And for every set of fans, there are those who are serious enough to travel to where the event is and experience it live. The Super Bowl is by no means an exception. People from around the country flock to the year’s host, treating it like their version Mecca for one glorious, football-driven day.
It’s easy to presume, then, that host cities enjoy a huge influx of money when the Super Bowl rolls around. After all, you’re getting a huge number of tourists coming in and spending their money on food, accommodations, and other things that the city can provide. This might be true, if the host city was completely devoid of tourists on other days. The reality is, however, that cities will always have tourists coming in and out, regardless of whether or not the Super Bowl is being held there. While some institutions predict that the Super Bowl will be responsible for bringing roughly $250 to $350 million in revenue to its host city, the more accurate figure would be at most $30 million.
Some cities might not even experience an economic impact at all. This usually occurs in cities that already have high tourist activity. What happens is that their regular tourists would simply be replaced by Super Bowl tourists for the time being. In fact, a study done in Miami showed that the city experienced a hotel occupancy rate boost of a mere 3.25%, which brings barely any noticeable improvement to the city’s economic performance in comparison with the rest of the year.
Before Super Bowl XII, Doug Williams was asked the now-infamous question, “How long have you been a black quarterback?” — In 1988, Doug Williams entered the history books by becoming the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl. News reporters and journalists gobbled up the story, and on Media Day, Williams found himself swamped with questions regarding this very fact. The media highlighted his race and asked questions such as “Would it be easier for you if you were the second black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl?” and “Do you fell that, because of the black quarterback issue, the country is watching you and thinking ‘What’s he going to do?’” Perhaps the most well-known question asked that day was one that Williams repeated himself — “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
Needless to say, the question has been lampooned as one of the stupidest questions ever asked in sports journalism history. However, Butch John, the reporter who asked that question, cleared the air. John’s actually question was “You’ve obviously been a black quarterback all your life. When did it start to matter?” Unfortunately for John, Williams misheard over the crowd of roughly twenty reporters, forever placing John and himself in the annals of Super Bowl urban legends.
A reported global audience of 1 billion people tune in to watch the Super Bowl. — Year in and year out, we hear that the worldwide audience of the Super Bowl reaches the one billion mark. In fact, the NFL itself states that the game is made available to an estimated audience of 750 million to 1 billion people around the world. What most people don’t really consider is that the NFL itself has no way of knowing how many people are actually tuned into the game worldwide. The statement released is on potential viewership rather than actual viewership. Although the game really is available to 1 billion people across the globe, it doesn’t necessarily mean that each and every one of those people is watching the game.
While the global numbers aren’t available, the media research firm Initiative has a good idea of how many people might be watching the Super Bowl. Based on the data collected from 54 of the world’s major TV markets, the average audience of Super Bowl XL was a mere 98 million, a far cry from 1 billion. In fact, the billion-viewer mark may be impossible to reach; the 2006 World Cup, otherwise known as the Super Bowl of soccer (the single most popular sport in the world), reached an average audience of 260 million.
Americans drink a dizzying 10 million barrels of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. — If there is one beverage that is essential to the complete Super Bowl experience, it would have to be beer. Nothing else even comes close. And when we drink our beer on Super Bowl Sunday, we drink a lot of it. In fact, we drink so much of it, only barrels can satisfy our thirst. That’s why, according to popular belief, we place in orders for 10-10.5 million barrels whenever the Super Bowl rolls around.
While those certainly sound like good times, the number is unfortunately way off. The Beer Institute conducted a quick analysis of the numbers: assuming that one-third of Americans drinks beer during the big game, the 10.5 million barrels of beer sold would equate to 1.45 cases consumed per person. Although some people might be able to stomach all that beer in one day, majority of the population wouldn’t, making the rumored barrel count a major overestimation.
Cold-weather locations put a freeze on Super Bowl tickets. — If you really think about it, it might make sense: cold-weather locations tend to attract less people, and to ticket sellers, that means less buyers. It would make sense, then, to put a freeze on prices just so they sell better. While this is a factor on ticket sales, it isn’t influential enough to become a major consideration. In fact, some cold-weather locations sell their tickets at pretty hefty prices.
What matters more in terms of ticket pricing is the city’s location from the event. A venue 200 miles away from the Super Bowl’s host city, for example, would have noticeably higher prices than those that are 500 miles away from it. It’s more a matter of convenience than of climate. Another major factor is the city’s football history. A storied franchise like Pittsburgh is bound to have more rabid fans willing to pay extra for their tickets, as compared to cities that aren’t too proud of their teams. It’s all a matter of ego, and bigger egos come with bigger price tags.