Heritage Christian has already told its 1,500 students, preschool through high school, and staff to stay home Feb. 5 — the day after the hometown Indianapolis Colts play the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
The game probably won’t be over until 10 p.m. local time. The school figures, correctly, what’s the point of trying to teach sleepy kids the next day?
But why should any of us be at work or school the next day? We all need the day to relax and recover from our day of national celebration. The Super Bowl has long passed the point of mere championship football game into an event worthy of a national holiday — the Super Bowl, and the Super Bowl (observed).
The Super Bowl certainly satisfies the requirements for a true holiday: people, particularly those who don’t see each other often, gathering in large groups, eating and drinking heartily. Plus, it’s less stressful, because you don’t have to get anything for anybody. (Unless you’re betting, and you have to pay back your bookie.)
Super Bowl weekend is not very different from Thanksgiving as a football-centric holiday, except that you can eat chicken wings instead of turkey, and you’re assured you will never have to sit through a Detroit Lions game. And most people get a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving.
It used to be that Christmas was the big, unifying holiday. But that was before we acknowledged, much to some legislators’ chagrin, that not everybody is a Christian. Christmas is now one of the most divisive holidays in America, so much so that anyone saying something other than “Happy Holidays” in December is seen as some sort of intolerant freak.
But everybody can agree on the Super Bowl as a holiday. As everything in American life has become more fragmented, compartmentalized, demographified (if that’s a word), the Super Bowl still gathers people of all faiths and all ages together in celebration of things that make our country great: knee-snapping athleticism, hyperinflated commercialism, and the hope that one day, again, we might see someone’s nipple for one-sixty-fourth of a second on network television. And homemade bean dip.
We Americans have made Super Bowl Monday a de facto post-holiday holiday, which we need because we treat the run-up to the game as we would the approach to Christmas, or whatever holiday one might celebrate in December.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, whose true life calling is reminding everybody how much employees having a life costs the great American corporate machine, informs us that it costs employers $162 million for every 10 minutes workers spend chatting about the Super Bowl, or checking the Internet about the Super Bowl, or planning who is going to buy the beer for the Super Bowl. The company also said 6 percent of workers nationwide take the day off after the Super Bowl.
CEO John Challenger, though, realizes he is spitting into the wind. “In fact, the benefits of the Super Bowl XLI on the workplace far outweigh the negatives,” he said in a company release. “Common interest in one of the teams might bring together two employees who might never have interacted otherwise. If companies can find a way to take advantage of Super Bowl excitement to build morale and company loyalty, the benefits can be even greater.”
I have an idea what would build morale and company loyalty — tell everyone to stay home on Monday. Their hangovers will thank you.
The practical question might be, if you make Super Bowl Monday a holiday, what holiday gets knocked out? No one, even Heritage Christian School, is willing just to add a day. (Heritage Christian drew on its bank of snow days, unused during a relatively mild winter, to achieve its Super Bowl holiday.)
It has to be a holiday that at least some schoolchildren and workers already get. Thanksgiving and that holiday period in December are out — those are too ingrained. Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, is already losing steam, what with the religious overtones, so that’s not worth bothering over.
The most obvious candidates are two holidays that occur nearest the Super Bowl — Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day.
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