An estimated 111 million Americans watched the Super Bowl in 2012, the seventh year in a row in which more people watched the big game than the previous one. And in all likelihood, more than 111 million people watched the Baltimore Ravens outlast the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, which means that, at the very least, tens of millions of people (tens of millions!) woke up Monday morning with an affliction that this writer would attempt to describe were he not suffering from it himself. Kingsley Amis expertly captured this self-induced malaise in his comic novel Lucky Jim:
Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad. [Lucky Jim]
Too many Americans know that feeling today. According to one study, about 6 percent of Super Bowl watchers call in "sick" the next morning, which would translate to nearly 7 million otherwise able-bodied workers. Everyone else has to suck it up and drag themselves to the office for the annual ritual of pain that must follow the annual pleasure of watching the Super Bowl. Even our bosses are sympathetic — indeed, it's the one day out of the year when you are almost forgiven for being useless. With all that in mind, many might justly wonder: What, exactly, is the point of having to work at all?
An intrepid group called 4for4.com Fantasy Football has posed that very question to the White House, posting a petition calling for a national holiday on the Monday after the Super Bowl. The petition reads:
We at 4for4.com Fantasy Football petition the Obama Administration to consider declaring the Monday following Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday. By doing so, the Obama Administration can promote camaraderie among the American people, keep the streets safer for our children on Sunday night and Monday morning, promote a productive workplace when work resumes on Tuesday, and honor the most popular event in modern American culture. [We the People]
The petition has received more than 14,000 signatures, and will require 100,000 for the White House to even consider it. It may sound a tad extreme to make a national holiday out of football, but is it really such a stretch? The Super Bowl already has all the trappings of a patriotic super-spectacle: Miles of red-white-and-blue bunting, paeans to the troops, fighter jets screaming overhead, and the singing of not just "The Star-Spangled Banner," but "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America." And let's not forget Beyonce, who belted out a halftime show in her own voice, an honor which she did not bestow on the president's inauguration. Making the following Monday a holiday would just be the cherry on top of an already indulgent affair.
Or here's an idea: Why doesn't the NFL air the Super Bowl on Saturday? Purists would object of course, and the NFL appears to have closed the door on the issue. But they should ask themselves, on this day in particular, whether any tradition is worth this.