Fact-checking the 2015 Super Bowl

Questions about deflated footballs cloud the New England Patriots match-up with the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. (AP 2012 file photo)
Questions about deflated footballs cloud the New England Patriots match-up with the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. (AP 2012 file photo)

With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, we took a break from planning our parties (guacamole!) to research and report a couple of new fact-checks. 

We first looked at a claim arising from the controversy of underinflated footballs. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the claim that atmospheric conditions could push a football’s pressure "down approximately one-and-a-half pounds per square inch." (Belichick's Patriots will face off against the Seattle Seahawks, coached by Pete Carroll.)

We felt like basic science should be able to tell us whether that's even possible. And within the limits of physics alone, we found the math gets us pretty close to what Belichick said, and we have the formulae to prove it. We also ran the claim by both scientists and physics teachers. We ended up rating the statement Mostly True

On a more serious note, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the Super Bowl has "one of the highest levels of human sex trafficking activity of any event in the country."

It’s possible that a Super Bowl host city might attract more sex trafficking during the event than at other times. Afterall, the host city welcomes thousands of visitors with money to spend. But there’s no empirical evidence to prove this, and the evidence that's available suggests little if any spike. We rated his claim Mostly False.

Finally, if you're wondering Super Bowl Sunday has the highest rate of domestic violence, we fact-checked that last year, and it's a claim that gets repeated often. It’s no more true now than 20 years ago, and experts say this myth persists in spite of long-lasting academic debunking. We rate the statement Pants on Fire!