A Super Bowl Holiday? I Wouldn’t Bet on It!

Man calling in sick on Super Bowl Monday after big game.

It was February 4, 2007. I stepped out the backdoor of my childhood home to walk three doors down to attend a party. The snow was falling, the house smelled like chili and potato chips, and we were all fueled up on enough soda to alarm a doctor. In other words, the energy was high. Growing up in Indiana, I was excited about a potential Indianapolis Colts victory — led by future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The ecstasy was real. When the Colts actually won, the outcome was everything I imagined and more.

Not only was I unable to sleep after the game, I remember waking up and dreading having to go to school and work. The question that ran through my mind then was, “Should I call off?” It’s very similar today. “Do I have to work the day after the Super Bowl?” Luckily, I work for an organization that offers unlimited paid time off, provides incredible flexibility, and is devoted to trust and transparency between employees and managers — but not all organizations do or can.

Yet, that doesn’t stop a lot of workers from missing work the Monday after the Super Bowl. Just how many? The Workforce Institute at UKG is back with its study on employee absences (planned or otherwise) following the big game. Here are some key results from the 2023 survey:

  • Nearly 2 in 5 employed Americans — an estimated 58.1 million1 U.S. employees — have missed work or gone in late on Super Monday at least once in their careers. This jumps to 50% among those aged 18-34, and 10% of managers today say they’ve “ghosted” their employer on Super Bowl Monday at least once before.
  • This year, roughly 1 in 5 employed Americans (17%) say they plan to not go into work or will go in late the Monday after the Super Bowl. When you look at the entire employed population, that equals 26.6 million people!

Even those who do report to work, including on Super Bowl Sunday, may not reach peak productivity during and following the game.

  • Fourteen percent of employed Americans (that’s 21.9 million people!) say they will be working Sunday during the Super Bowl but still plan to watch at least some of the game.
  • On the Monday after the game, around a third of employed Americans say they will be distracted by Super Bowl post-game coverage at work (33%), talk about the Super Bowl with coworkers during work hours (32%), and be generally less productive than usual (33%).

Every year we conduct this survey, and at least one official petition or campaign arises to make Super Bowl Monday a national holiday. What’s more, more than 2 in 5 employed Americans (42%) believe the Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday in the U.S.

I hate to say it, but Super Bowl Monday will never be a holiday. There are so many other key events and observations that deserve to be a national holiday before the big game. America only first made Juneteenth a national holiday in 2021.

So, if we will never officially have the day off as workers, and yet millions of people will skip work the day after the big game anyway, how can organizations better plan for business continuity?

Consider these three strategies: 

1. Practice authentic leadership

The power of positive relationships determines the culture and foundation of organizational success. Much of this is driven by leaders — not just executives but any individual who is deemed by peers as a leader — who set the tone for the overall company culture. In other words, if leaders themselves plan to miss work after the Super Bowl, are they open and willing to share that fact with their people to help ensure business continuity and better plan for staff absences? 

2. Use scheduling software

This doesn’t just apply for planning around the Super Bowl or holidays. Being able to leverage forecasting for your schedules is critical in all workplace scenarios. For instance, for those who don’t watch the Super Bowl, being able to swap shifts with your football fanatic coworker from your phone on your couch helps ensure business continues to get done effectively. 

3. Build trust with employees

I often talk about the “transparency initiative.” Think of how you navigate your personal relationships — those who are close to you know more about you, how you think, how you feel, and how you approach things. Shouldn’t we apply that same approach with the people we spend the majority of our time with (our coworkers)? Trust is the foundation of engagement, authenticity, and productivity. When sharing news and information with your teams, tell the truth and tell them as much as you’re allowed to tell. If you’re limiting what you share, ask yourself why. If you’re holding back, challenge this method and drive employee success by being vulnerable and honest.

In closing, did I call off the day after the Super Bowl in 2007? No. I stuck with it. But then, I came to discover that my manager and several of my coworkers claimed they were “sick” and never showed up. Though I was still running on adrenaline from my Colts celebration, we all could have benefitted from greater transparency and honesty in that situation.

The Colts may not be in the game this year, but I’ll still be watching Super Bowl LVII. And, yes, I plan to be at work on Monday.


Footnote 1: Calculation based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics December 2022 report that estimates there are 157,033,000 employed people adults in the U.S.: 157,033,000 x 37% of employed adults who did not go to work or went to work late that day after the Super Bowl at least once before = 58.10 million