Here's an easy fix: Super Bowl Saturday

York Dispatch editorial board

There’s another health crisis is upon us. It affects millions. And it has nothing to do with the latest COVID-19 variant.

Super Bowl Fever is the name of the malady and, according to polling by the Workforce Institute, it infects as many as 17.5 million workers a year.

Actually, it’s more of a workplace crisis.

That’s because only a little more than 60% of those workers, who are MIA the day after the big game, plan ahead by requesting pre-approved time off. The rest call in sick or employ some other excuse for staying home.

How do the workers who punch in on Monday — potentially tired, a little hungover and/or stretched thin — respond? In part, by talking about the Super Bowl.

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Between the Monday morning quarterbacking among the estimated 100 million Super Bowl viewers and the Monday morning no-shows, the costs to American businesses are staggering: well over $4 billion, according to industry estimates.

“If all of the workers who watch the Super Bowl spend just one hour of their work day discussing the game or come in one hour late, the productivity losses could hit $1.7 billion,” said Andrew Challenger, of the outplacement and executive coaching company Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., in a 2019 company release that was widely circulated. “This is on top of the $2.6 billion in productivity losses from people choosing to stay home from work.”

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow warms up during NFL football practice Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Los Angeles. The Cincinnati Bengals play the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl Feb. 13. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

What to do?

Business experts have offered advice to managers including late or flexible start times on Super Bowl Monday, designating time boundaries for game-related discussion and enhanced performance challenges for the week after the game.

Sorry; that’s like offering a Band-Aid to a player that has just been carted off the field after a tough tackle.

The answer is actually for more systemic — and simple — albeit a potential act of heresy for pro-football purists: Move the game to Saturday.

Hear us out!

Other than tradition, there’s really no overwhelming argument for holding the game on a Sunday:

  • The college football season is over, so there’s no competition for gridiron-focused eyeballs and advertising dollars. 
  • There are no other major sporting conflicts, with the possible exception of the once-every-four years Winter Olympics. 
  • There is already an extra week between the final league championship games and Super Bowl Sunday, so the one less day of rest is less consequential for players.

The benefits are clear: Those tens of millions of football fans can enjoy the game secure in the knowledge that they’ve got a full day to recover before heading back to their jobs. Workplace productivity wouldn’t take nearly as big a hit. And conscientious employees who schedule time off would benefit from what amounts to an extra vacation day.

Other than a possible decline in morning-after church services, there appears to be little downside.

Super Bowl Saturday is certainly a preferable alternative to some of the other ideas that have been floated, such as making the Monday after the big game a national holiday. (No holiday for Election Day but a holiday for the day after the Super Bowl? That would be an embarrassing misplacement of priorities.)

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald gestures prior to practice for an NFL Super Bowl football game Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The Rams are scheduled to play the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The NFL is well-versed in repositioning its product for maximum pubic consumption. It invented Monday Night Football and has since folded in a regular Thursday night schedule and Saturday playoff games. We have little doubt they could generate enthusiasm for the new day in less time than it takes Tennessee Titan Derrick Henry to make a touchdown run. 

It’s time to acknowledge the obvious: Rampant vacation days and underproduction on post-Super Bowl Mondays are just as unwelcome among workers as they are among business owners. In the interest of national workplace productivity — and, frankly, viewer convenience — the Super Bowl should be moved to Saturday.