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The Ideal Day for the Super Bowl

Is “Super Sunday” sacrosanct, or could it be another “Super” Day?

Super Bowl I - Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl LVI...not the first time LA has seen a Super Bowl

On February 13th, the world, or at least most of the American Sports TV/Streaming public will stop what they are doing and dedicate the better part of four hours watching the Great American Game that is the Super Bowl. For over 50 years, the Super Bowl reigns as the top sporting event on the America cultural scene. The highest rated TV broadcast of any sort will be this game. It is one of the largest food buying and pizza-ordering days on the American calendar. This will be the 56th Sunday where the Super Bowl rules America.

However, does that mean the game will always remain on a Sunday? Recently, a petition filed by a high school student drew headlines by asking the NFL to change the day of Super Bowl LVI from a Sunday to a Saturday. As of the time of this writing, over 109,000 people signed. The originator of this petition, an 18-year high school student from Florida, is looking to persuade Roger Goodell to shift the game, noting that the Sunday night broadcast has a significant economic impact (while the article states $44 billion, most other financial research holds to $3 billion to $6 billion in lost productivity), mostly due to the expected absenteeism (article goes with ~17 million workers, which is in line with most other assessments/research.

Surprisingly, hangover soup is not a more profitable breakfast option in America after a Super Bowl Sunday
Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

Regardless of the correct number, that is a lot of lost productivity. This does not account for those who do show up to work, but probably are not at their optimum best to start the work day. By moving the game to a Saturday, the NFL would give the American public an extra weekend day, and a Sunday at that, to recover and get back to being productive. At the present time, the NFL did not have an official comment.

The likelihood of moving the game at this point is somewhere between none and not a chance in [Easterby]. The NFL also holds to tradition and their position that Sunday brings in the biggest ratings. Given that the most expensive ad buys in all of media are for the Super Bowl game, the NFL is really, really not likely to do anything to mess that arrangement up.

Super Bowl XXXVI: St. Louis Rams Vs. New England Patriots
The 1st February Super Bowl...clearly the biggest and most significant first about this Super Bowl...yep, the only “first” you care about with Super Bowl XXXVI
Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Yet, is it a foregone conclusion that the game will never move dates? Up until Super Bowl XXXVI, the game was always played in January. The events of 9/11 and subsequent week stoppage in play pushed the NFL calendar back a week. Until that February 3, 2002 kickoff, the league never played the game later than January 31st. That could sometimes reduce the usual two weeks between conference title games and the Super Bowl to just one. Super Bowl XXXVII returned to its January slot (January 26, 2003). However, that was the last Super Bowl played in January. Since then, the game is now a February affair (although the talk of playing in February does quite hold the same ring as “playing in January”).

Given that the move in months did nothing to diminish the ratings, monetary value or quality of the game, could a move in days really be all that painful? While the vast majority of games are Sunday affairs, the NFL will also dominate ratings on Thursdays, and for late-season games, Saturday afternoons and evenings. The NFL is not so tradition-bound about having playoff games on Saturdays, and those games tend to do really, really well in the Nielsen ratings. If the NFL decided that a Super Bowl in the future would be played on a Saturday, I suspect that the viewers will come, as will the advertising dollars.

A corollary to this argument is that since the NFL crossed the Rubicon of not playing past January, there is another possibility of playing a game at a time when it doesn’t have as significant an economic impact. The weekend after Super Bowl LVI is the weekend right before Presidents’ Day (Feb 21st). Presidents’ Day is currently a Federal Holiday, and quite a number of institutions, likes schools, have that day off. There you have a ready-made scheduling advantage, as a sizable number of people who would tune into a Feb 20th Super Bowl broadcast would not have to worry about getting up for work the next Monday.

We might be very, very close to that moment. Should the NFL either add an 18th game and/or decide to give teams 2 byes, then you are RIGHT THERE!!! Plus, with the Monday After a holiday for most, many other businesses might just decide that they may as well give people the day off, an acceptance of reality that is akin to Louisiana residents getting Mardi Gras off work/school. (This scenario has been discussed here before).

Ultimately, this petition will do nothing about Super Bowl LVI, or likely Super Bowl LVII as they are locked in for their Sunday time slots. As for Super Bowl LVIII, the location is set. The date? Well, the game is in Vegas, and in Vegas, there is always a chance...

Exploring The Las Vegas Strip From The Air
Could the game here see another change for the Super Bowl?
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Of course, since you are reading this on a Texans site, you probably realize that this is all academic. A good theoretical discussion to have over a couple of adult drinks in a social establishment (or if it is the case, a virtual Happy Hour). Whether the game is still “Super Sunday”, “Super Saturday”, or “Weekend of ‘Muerican Glory”, it is fun to think about, but not something that is likely to have any impact in the near-term future.