Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On the Monday after every Super Bowl, Robert Chute Jr. closes down his family’s electrical supply business in Gastonia, N.C.

Call it a Day of Recovery. Or, maybe, a day when business would be super-slow anyway.

“It is part of American culture,” Mr. Chute said of professional football’s championship game. “There’s nothing like it. And [Monday] should be a day of recovery. The game doesn’t end until late, and it’s a school day. … Children often don’t get to see the end of the Super Bowl.”

Undoubtedly, the Super Bowl has become one of the nation’s most significant events, sporting or otherwise, drawing nearly 100 million television viewers in the United States and spawning daylong celebrations built around the excessive intake of food and drink.

The day after the game is most often spent celebrating a win, lamenting a loss or, at the very least, cleaning up the leftover mess. Employment consultants predict that the post-Super Bowl hangover leads to nearly $170 million in lost productivity.

That state of affairs prompted Mr. Chute to campaign for the past three years to have the Monday after the Super Bowl declared a national holiday, on par with special days set aside for veterans, presidents and civil rights leaders.

It’s not, he contends, a day when business is booming anyway.

“Our customers are totally behind us,” said Mr. Chute, who has campaigned for the holiday with a Web site, www.superbowlmonday.com, mass mailings and tailgating events.

Many Americans, it seems, already take Super Bowl Monday as a personal holiday. Several employment groups estimate that more than 1.5 million people call in sick the day after football’s biggest game. The number of Super Bowl parties — 8 million of them by some estimates — is said to exceed the number of soirees held on New Year’s Eve.

And the damage, of course, is not limited just to the day after the game.

Challenger, Grey and Christmas, an employment consulting firm in Chicago, estimates that businesses will lose $848.5 million in productivity in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The company said 58.3 million workers will watch the game this year, and each of them will waste an average of 10 minutes a day planning parties, discussing pools or reading about the game. Each lost 10 minutes, the firm said, represents $2.91 in lost productivity.

The firm did not calculate precisely how much productivity would be lost on the Monday after the big game. But John Challenger, the company’s chief executive officer, said the impact the day after the Super Bowl likely will be comparable to the days leading up to it.

And the impact, he said, will be felt hardest this year in New York and Boston. The New York Giants and New England Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday.

“Both of those cities are pretty vulnerable,” Mr. Challenger said. “The people who are from the winning city are going to be recovering from partying in the streets all night. The people from the losing city will be crying in their beer.”

The need for Super Bowl recovery time led some fans to suggest moving the game to Saturday from its traditional spot on Sunday. The proposal never has been seriously considered because it’s not good for business: A Sunday game allows the host city to fill more hotel rooms and hold more pregame parties and other events.

But there is good news for at least some businesses: The drop in productivity is offset by an increase in spending the week before the Super Bowl.

The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will buy 3.9 million televisions for Super Bowl Sunday, up more than 50 percent from 2.5 million last year. They also will buy 1.8 million pieces of furniture to go with the new TVs, up from 1.3 million last year.

For Mr. Chute, however, the news is not so good — the declaration of Super Bowl Monday as a holiday still appears to be a long way off.

Buzz over his campaign peaked when hamburger chain White Castle sponsored a Super Bowl Monday campaign in 2006, but the restaurant hasn’t repeated the promotion. Mr. Chute had hoped to collect 20,000 signatures and present them to members of Congress this year, but as of last week, he had gathered only 16,000.

Politicians, naturally, are reluctant to jump on a bandwagon that’s barely moving. Mr. Chute said most of his letters to lawmakers have gone unanswered. He presented the idea to the mayor of Charlotte but got only a polite noncommittal response.

“No one really wants to talk to us,” Mr. Chute said. “Politicians have other things on their plate.”

Read more from the Super Bowl in The Washington Times NFL Lowdown at the Super Bowl Blog.

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