Even non-football fans understand the significance of Super Bowl Sunday. Composed of a championship football game, a halftime performance and countless amusing commercials, the Super Bowl has become a cultural phenomenon viewed by over 100 million people.
True to its status as an important American tradition, the Super Bowl provides the perfect occasion for late-night parties and heavy drinking. As such, the Monday following the game is notorious for widespread workplace absence. So why not fix this problem by simply reshuffling the National Football League (NFL) postseason schedule and playing the Super Bowl on Saturday?
First of all, the Super Bowl typically kicks off around 6:30 p.m. EST. Given all of the festivities and stoppages throughout the game, roughly four hours pass before the final whistle blows. The sheer length of the game ensures that workers and partygoers will be out and about much later than usual.
As we know, the combination of sleep deprivation and Monday mornings are detrimental to the productivity of workers everywhere. But when you mix in the excitement of a Super Bowl hangover, the problem only worsens. According to a Captivate’s Office Pulse study, companies lost $484 million in productivity from workers calling out “sick” on the day after the Super Bowl last year. Changing the schedule would undoubtedly decrease the number of employees who call out on Monday, which was estimated at 17.2 million last year.
The incentives for the NFL to restructure its postseason schedule extend beyond the interests of working fans. Trends in the league’s viewership demographics show that the average NFL audience has grown consistently older since 2018.
Such a trend is reflective of the general struggle for television programs to compete with online forms of entertainment among youth audiences. Unlike their parents and other elders, school-aged children are not the ones going out and partying on Super Bowl Sunday. But like adults, they still must wake up for school on Monday morning, and most parents are not going to let their child stay home because they were up too late. Thus, moving the game to a Saturday evening has the potential to increase viewership among younger audiences and increase revenue for the NFL.
Speaking of increasing viewership, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explained that the main reason for keeping the Super Bowl on Sunday is the proven television ratings the game has received in that time slot. However, I find Goodell’s argument to be fundamentally flawed.
The Super Bowl has become such a massive event that its ratings would likely be high any night of the week. Though Goodell, as a businessman, rightly recognizes the importance of television ratings, the issue at hand has more to do with fan convenience and practicality than viewership statistics that would likely see little to no change.
Lastly, if Goodell is concerned with viewership, he should consider that moving the Super Bowl to a Saturday could pave the way for the NFL’s international breakthrough. The league plays several games in London and Mexico City every year, but it could really emerge in other foreign markets by making this switch.
For example, if the Super Bowl concludes at 10:30 p.m. EST on a Sunday night, that means British fans must stay up until 3:30 a.m. Monday morning to watch it live. For fans in the world’s Far East, the game currently airs in the middle of the workday on Monday. Of course no single time slot could satisfy the millions of football fans globally, but I believe that this new international audience would squash any worries Goodell has about lower ratings.
Regardless of when it is played, the Super Bowl has been, is and always will be a celebrated event in America and across the world. But after five decades of Sunday Super Bowls, the time has come to break with tradition and call upon the NFL to adapt its schedule for the modern audience.
Carson Swick is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.