Published March 29, 2017
A single tweet from an obscure Reykjavík anesthesiologist on Monday suggested that a spike in the number of hospital epidurals last week was correlated to Iceland’s berserk victory over England in last year’s EuroCup. The doctor, Ásgeir Pétur Þorvaldsson, noted that exactly nine months had passed since the 27 June game.
News outlets across the globe, in their insatiable fetish to cover all things scantily-clad and smelling of clickbait, descended on the tweet like dung beetles on a turd. The BBC, the Independent (U.K.), the London Telegraph, Foreign Policy (U.S.), RT (Russia) and Newsweek (U.S.) all reported on a supposed Icelandic baby boom. A Spanish paper even proclaimed that Icelanders had had “a football orgasm”. Sex! Scandal! Nordic culture! Babies! Sure makes for a good story, right?
But Icelandic public broadcasting RÚV reports that it’s all overblown—the nation’s women did not, after all, spend the last few weeks rushing to the maternity ward. Sorry to disappoint you macho football fans (or soccer nuts, for those in the U.S.), but your team’s victory does not actually increase your virility.
Notorious tweetster Ásgeir Pétur even posted a follow-up tweet once the news broke that he was the culprit of, well, a tremendous scam. “I’d like to apologize to all new parents for having to endure shouts of ‘Always on the ball’ and ‘Just one shot and goal!’” But all those news outlets didn’t hop on this tweet because—let’s face it—admitting your mistakes isn’t very fun.
In case those aforementioned, supposedly reputable news outlets are interested in some actual statistics, Icelandic birth rates have been steadily declining for the past few decades. In fact, the birth rate in 2015 was the lowest ever reported in Iceland.
And a note to reporters: please check your sources next time. Don’t be like the BBC, which paid someone way too much money to develop a video of cartoon babies shooting out of one of Iceland’s geysers. I’m not even kidding.