With baseball season underway, March Madness in its final days and the youth travel tournament scene heating up, it’s safe to say football has slipped down on the radar a bit. Except that a petition is underway to convince the NFL to move the Super Bowl to a Saturday.
And once you get past the knee-jerk reaction (“We’ve always done it this way!”), there are merits to the argument – but more on that in a minute.
The petition – available at this link on Change.org, started back before the most recent Super Bowl by an 18-year-old high school student named Frank Ruggeri, a resident of Palm Bay, Florida – has garnered close to 135,000 signatures, with signatures coming all the time.
Once it reaches 150,000, Ruggeri would like to see the petition land on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s desk for consideration.
Ruggeri’s arguments in favor of a Saturday Super Bowl in general are compelling. Moving the Super Bowl would make it possible for more people to host more and larger parties and gatherings. The Super Bowl is the single most popular party day of the year in the USA, and in 2022, the National Retail Federation projected that Americans would spend $14.6 billion on hosting and attending parties.
It would also make the day after easier to handle. In 2021, human resource management firm SHRM noted that an estimated 16.1 million of the 146 million adults employed in the U.S. expected to take the day off after watching the big game. (In fact, researchers estimated 4.4 million employees were planning to call in sick to work, even though they were not ill – save for hangovers and lack of sleep). Approximately 10.2 million employees planned to start work later than normal on the Monday following the Super Bowl.
Although the Super Bowl has been on Sunday since it began in 1967, one common complaint is that a late and exciting game for the greatest sporting spectacle of the year leaves little turnaround time before a regular Monday-Friday work week.
"It's really, really important to me because so many people miss work," Ruggeri said, citing the numbers, to reporters on CBS Television. "That's 44 billion dollars less of productivity."
Business News Daily reported that in the "Super Bowl 55 Fever Sidelines Employees" study commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos, about 40% of those surveyed said being tired from staying up late watching the game was the main reason they called in sick the next day. Additionally, 34% of those ages 21 and overstated that drinking too much was a key factor in their unplanned absence.
The question at issue in that article was whether the day after Super Bowl Sunday should be designated a national holiday. And while it is difficult to declare a holiday based on expected tiredness or hangovers, it is possible to create an extra day to sleep by moving the game to Saturday.
There’s also the amount of money to be made by having more viewers who are able to be influenced by advertising. With an expanded viewership of employees whose weekday hours would normally disallow staying up for the game – not to mention students who need to be at school the next morning – that’s a lot more eyeballs on the screen seeing the commercials.
SGB Media noted that sponsor brands received $170 million of in-game exposure, according to the report, up slightly from $169 million during the 2021 Super Bowl. The 2020 game generated $143 million.
It’s still an uphill battle, even with all the logic. In previous public interviews, Goodell stated that the television audience is larger on Sunday than it would be on Saturday.
"Commissioner Goodell, there would be more viewership," Ruggeri argued in an interview carried in USA TODAY. "The people will be watching. Bigger party. And I think the economic impact would be easier to have it on a Saturday."
Ruggeri wants Super Bowl LVII to be played on a Saturday; however, that is more easily said than done – and Ruggeri is a high school student, not a sports tourism professional, so he can be forgiven if he does not yet understand the complexity of scheduling.
With bidding for Super Bowls being set out several years in advance, any change would have to be first ratified, then set forth in bids for upcoming years; currently, the following dates have been locked in (and it’s unlikely those cities will want to move things around, since airfares, hotel stays, restaurant reservations, large events and various other ancillary activities are scheduled around the Super Bowl):
- Super Bowl LVII: February 12, 2023, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
- Super Bowl LVIII: 2024, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Super Bowl LIX: 2025, Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
SDM will continue to follow this issue.