The Truth Behind Some Super Bowl Myths

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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01: The Vince Lombardi Trophy and Atlanta Falcons helmet and New England Patriots helmet on display during NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's press Conference on Feburary 01, 2017, at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Astonishingly, only 77% of sports reporters who research the Super Bowl can use Roman numerals correctly. And 87% of those reporters will eat 2.5 hamburgers during the game, consume 3.7 beers, and make up 75% of the statistics in their articles on the spot.

The Truth Behind Some Super Bowl Myths

Of course, none of the above is true (except maybe the last one), but there are dozens of myths surrounding the Super Bowl, few to none with any basis in fact. Still, year after year as the big game approaches, they are repeated, even in mainstream media.

Fatal Heart Attacks

Die-hard fans often actually pass away after their team loses in the Super Bowl, or so says a study done in Los Angeles in 1980 and 1984. The study found that in the case of a loss, there were more heart attacks in the city of the losing team in the weeks following the Super Bowl than years where the team was either a winner or not a Super Bowl participant.

True? Well, the study should probably be updated and expanded a bit before the validity of it can be determined for sure, but there’s no solid evidence the outcome of the Super Bowl was the cause of the heart attacks or deaths.

The Stock Market and the Super Bowl Indicator

The Super Bowl Indicator was first introduced in an article in 1978, by Leonard Koppett. Intended to be sarcastic, it was based on the first 12 Super Bowls and predicted that if an NFC team won, stock prices would go up, but if the AFC contender earned the Lombardi Trophy, stocks would go down.

True? As of January 2017, the Super Bowl Indicator has been right 40 out of 50 times. So while President Trump probably wants the Patriots to win since he is good friends with both New England Owner Robert Kraft and team quarterback Tom Brady, the stock traders have to be rooting for the Atlanta Falcons. Stocks took a tumble last time the Patriots won (in 2015), also the last time the SBI was correct.

The Presidential Election

When the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, true mythologists would have said Hillary Clinton had no chance at being elected president. Mythologists say that history shows that if the AFC wins the big game, a Republican is headed to office. This myth breaks down a little on closer examination, but the Super Bowl is, fortunately for us, not the only football indicator of who will be the next president.

The other predictor is called the Redskins Rule, and it too, held true this year. If the Redskins win their final regular season game, the incumbent party keeps the White House. The last game for the Redskins in 2015 was a loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. Sorry Democrats.

14 Billion Served?

There is an oft-repeated, but clearly erroneous statistic, which states that football fans eat 14 billion burgers at Super Bowl parties. If you have hosted one, it sounds plausible until you realize every American would each have to eat 46 hamburgers for that number to be correct.

Even assuming both global coverage and interest, every person on Earth would have to eat two hamburgers during the Super Bowl for this to be true, which is highly unlikely.

The Flush Effect

The Super Bowl is kind of a crapshoot, so to speak. Some years the game is great, others not so much. But there is still the temptation to wait until halftime to use the facilities, especially if your team is playing.

A common myth says this Super Bowl Flush Effect is a danger to our water systems and the environment. True? Not really. While an analysis by the Palm Beach County Water Utilities in 2011 showed a spike in water usage at halftime and again during the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy, the overall usage hardly overloaded the system.

The same thing was recorded in 2012 in New York when the New York Giants were in the Super Bowl and water usage spiked 13% following the game. The New York Post reported, “the 30-foot-deep water level in the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers actually decreased by 2 inches after the contest.” Of course, this caused no real damage, so this myth is easy to poo-poo.

There is good news in this area, though. New stadiums, including Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco and US Bank Stadium in Minnesota, the home of Super Bowl LII, are some of the smartest in the country. In both, fans can check bathroom lines through an in-stadium app, and the software will also give them directions from their seat to the shortest line and back, so they don’t have to fear getting lost on the way.

Rooting for the Underdog

Gamblers would like fans to believe that the underdog always has a chance, and the favored team does not always win. The Super Bowl is the most gambled-on sporting event in the United States, and there are reputable places for you to lay your money down. But if you are going to take the risk, the odds say you should bet on the favorite.

In fact, the favorites have won by a margin of 33-15, and the biggest upset came in Super Bowl III, when Joe Namath guaranteed victory the Thursday before the game, and the New York Jets, despite being 18 point underdogs, beat the then Baltimore Colts 16-7. This year might be closer than most, with the New England Patriots only favored by three points.

TV Ratings

The Super Bowl has been used by networks as a lead-in to various shows, in a hope that it would boost ratings. That has largely proven to be a myth, though. Not all Super Bowl viewers stick around for the show that is on after the game. And often those series end up being flops.

Davis Rules, MacGruder and Loud, and The Last Precinct are fine, yet horrible examples of the myth proven false. The Last Precinct was fortunately canned after only 8 episodes.

However, some of the commercials are higher rated than the shows that follow the Super Bowl. For any business willing to cough up the cash, this form of video marketing extends well beyond the slot in the big game. Dozens of commercials win YouTube fame and thousands of views for months to come.

Still, the fact that the Super Bowl lead-in generates ratings for shows? Another myth that bites the dust.

Impotence?

Do you believe in Bigfoot sightings? That Megan Fox might actually be a man? Think Jimmy Hoffa’s body is actually buried in the Giant’s endzone?

Then this story is for you. In 2011, the trustworthy Weekly World News, cited a study from the University of Pennsylvania that stated watching the big game might cause big problems in your sex life. The problem? No such study was ever actually done.

There are many other rumors surrounding the big game. From the ones about a rise in domestic abuse in losing cities (busted) to its links to sex trafficking in host cities (suspect), there has been little research into why these myths have been built up around a football contest. Given that most Super Bowl myths are a bust, there is at least one thing we know one thing for sure.

In 47% of Super Bowl contests since 1980, the halftime show was not terrible.

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