The Super Bowl a new national holiday? Neil Cohen explains why it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
This coming Sunday, more than 110 million people in the United States will watch the Super Bowl. On Monday, according to various surveys, more than four million employees will come into work late, another nine percent will use a vacation day and three percent will call in sick. Many more will spend hours discussing Kate Upton’s Mercedes Benz commercial or whether Beyonce lip-synched the half-time show.
They’ll also be lamenting that Super Bowl Sunday isn’t a holiday.
They might have a point.
Why shouldn’t Super Bowl Sunday be a national holiday? After all, it has all the elements of an American tradition: parties, violence, excessive eating, DUI checkpoints, gambling, endless marketing, TV watching and lots and lots of tweets and Instagram photos of guacamole. Nothing says America more than the Super Bowl—it’s the one time during the year that nearly the entire country is doing the same thing at the same time.
And the Super Bowl is different than most other holidays: there aren’t any specific family obligations as with Thanksgiving and Christmas, no religious commitments except to the God of Concussions or whatever Ray Lewis is talking about, you don’t have to buy presents for anyone (though you should bring something for your party host), and, unlike many U.S. holidays, you don’t need to ask anyone, “Why do we have the day off today?”
In short, the Super Bowl is pure fun (unless you’re Tom Brady), so why not let everyone enjoy it even more by declaring it an official holiday to be recognized on Monday, giving everyone the day off to recover.
The Super Bowl hasn’t always been holiday-worthy. The first Super Bowl in 1967 failed to sell out Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, falling more than 30,000 fans short. And though all of the Super Bowls since 2005 have topped 90 million TV viewers, only five of the previous 39 games achieved that mark. (Though could someone please tell me why 100 million people watched the series finale of M.A.S.H., the program that remains the most watched in American television history as a percentage of all households?)
The rise of the Super Bowl holiday has been fueled by some really smart marketing. The league has promoted the NFL brand, and the Super Bowl specifically, to women as well as non-sports fans with the commercials (at $3.8 million for a 30-second spot) and half-time show that have become as big a reason to watch the Super Bowl as the game itself.
The Super Bowl has become so important for corporations that they have begun to tease their products and specific promotional campaigns during the Christmas buying season with the hopes of maximizing social media buzz come the day of the game. It makes sense given how much we consume just on Super Bowl Sunday alone. All the new TVs are nothing compared to 8 million pounds of guacamole, more than 325 million gallons of beer and 90 million chicken wings. It must be a fun time of year for the executives at GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of TUMS.
The NFL, TV networks and corporate America have made it incredibly difficult for any red-blooded American to think of a reason not to watch the game. This is unlike every other holiday when many people decline to participate for religious or cultural reasons, need to work or just lack the interest.
If we all now agree (we probably don’t) that the Super Bowl deserves to be a national holiday, then to be fair we probably should eliminate an existing holiday. And in the interest of fairness, why not use this as an opportunity to reevaluate our entire holiday calendar.
New Year’s Day: Important to start the new year with a day off to recover from previous year (or just the night before).
Martin Luther King Day: Need to remember the Civil Rights leader.
Super Bowl Day: Sorry Presidents. We’re slotting in Super Bowl Monday here. You all get monuments, biographies, movies and your face on mountains and money. No need to be greedy.
Baseball Opening Day/April Fools: Hey, baseball is the real national pastime. We need more time to set our fantasy line-up, and more time for a prank or two.
Memorial Day: Important day to remember those who have fallen. Combine with Veteran’s Day to remember those still alive who served our country.
Independence Day: Great weather, great BBQ, ‘nuff said.
September 11th Remembrance Day: How many of you had to search Wikipedia to find out why we celebrate Labor Day? September 11th was easily the most important day in the past 50 years of American history. We should never forget.
Halloween: Columbus landed in the Bahamas. We need a day for it to be okay to dress as super heroes, Jawas and Miley Cyruses. Meets all of the requirements of Super Bowl Day minus gambling (I think) and TV watching.
Election Day: Respectfully replaces Veteran’s Day. Our country is built upon democracy. More people would vote if we made it easier.
Thanksgiving: Our second football holiday. And make Black Friday official as well since most of us take it off anyway.
Christmas Day: Hey, I’m no Grinch. I like Santa as much as the next Jewish guy.
It’s time for all of us to come together and Hike the Vote. Only 89,000 more signatures needed (yes, this is real) for the White House to consider a Super Bowl holiday.
After all, 90 million chicken wings can’t be wrong.
Photo: AP / Patrick Semansky