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Myths of Super Bowl Sunday

Urban legends & myths of the Super Bowl


friends watching football on TV
David Sucsy/E+/Getty Images

Updated Jan. 24, 2014
IN AN interview with the LA Times a few years back, renowned folklorist Alan Dundes ventured to explain why Super Bowl Sunday has become the focus of so many larger-than-life "urban beliefs" in the United States — beliefs such as:

  • Every year on the day of the Super Bowl the water systems of big cities all across the country verge on collapsing because of so many simultaneous toilet flushings at half-time.

  • More women are physically abused by spouses and boyfriends on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year.

  • Two-thirds of all the avocados sold yearly in the United States are purchased during the three weeks prior to the Super Bowl for making guacamole dip.

  • There are more pizza deliveries made during Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.

  • Disneyland becomes a veritable ghost town on the day of the Super Bowl because so many Americans are planted in front of their TV sets.

  • The stock market predictably fluctuates up or down the Monday after the Super Bowl depending on which league wins.

Said Dundes: "Every culture's legends express that culture's values. Super Bowl legends usually involve numbers and a sense of enormity. The idea of big numbers, of being bigger than other people, is very American."

Or maybe we're just prone to exaggerate. Who isn't?

Pumped up though they may be, Americans' cherished Super Bowl beliefs aren't entirely without foundation, Times reporter Tony Perry concluded. Take that story about water systems failing. . . .

1. Water, sewage systems in danger of collapsing?

As it happens, a Salt Lake City water main did burst open right in the middle of a Super Bowl broadcast back in the 1980s. But though news stories at the time attributed the mishap to an excess of toilet flushings, no evidence has ever been found to substantiate that, or even the likelihood of such an event. See Perry's article, "Super Bowl Lore Part of the Game," and public utilities director Leroy Hooton's personal account of what really happened in Salt Lake City.

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