Who Speaks for the American People?
A few thoughts on teaching Ethics

Should the Monday after the Super Bowl be a Holiday?

Productivity Suffers post-Super Bowl: A Good Reason for a Holiday? 

Now that we know the Seattle Seahawks will play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, it is time to dust off the long-standing argument that the day after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. What’s the point of going to work with a hangover and excessively-bloated feeling? Can we really be productive that day? Is it worth turning on the lights and paying the electricity bill to have millions of people fake their way through the day?

You may be wondering what anyone of this has to do with ethics. Well, ethics deals with values such as responsibility and accountability, and work ethic, so the question is whether it is responsible behavior to fake it or call in sick the day after the Super Bowl. What does it say about the commitment to a strong work ethic by millions in our society who either call in sick or are unproductive the day after the Super Bowl?

It has been estimated that 111.5 million people watched the 2014 Super Bowl between Seattle and Denver. That’s about 35% of the U.S. population (316.1 million). Surveys indicate that employers are likely to see the greatest impact on productivity the day after the Super Bowl as workers congregate around water coolers, chat over cubicle walls or otherwise gather to discuss the game.

For each employee, companies lose an average of about $3.16 for every 10 minutes of time used discussing the Super Bowl and activities related to the game, such as managing office pools, according to employment-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Separate surveys conducted by employment-information website Glassdoor  and Kronos Inc., a workforce management consultancy, show Americans are more likely to waste time or call in sick on the Monday following the Super Bowl than any other day.

A survey by Workforce Institute at Kronos estimates that some 4.4 million employees will come to work late on the day after Super Bowl Sunday. The survey further shows that absences related to the Super Bowl are high among young adults, especially men aged 18 to 34; more in that group reported calling in sick than any other, according to the poll of more than 3,000 adults. The survey indicates that employers are likely to see the greatest impact on productivity the day after the big game and 22 percent of employees said it's commonly a less productive day than usual.

In the past a variety of groups have asked the President to declare a national holiday the day after the Super Bowl. A couple of years ago 4for4.com Fantasy Football petitioned 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.”

Now, the fact that a Fantasy Football site initiated the petition detracts from the seriousness of the effort since there can be no doubt Fantasy Football hopes the PR effort leads to more sign-ups for its newsletter, betting, and other self-promoting activities. Nevertheless, the fact that many Americans have signed the petition speaks volumes about the declining ethical values in our society.

Here’s a statistic for you that reflects our changing cultural values. A survey of 1,000 people by San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners showed 78 percent of Americans look forward to Super Bowl commercials more than the game. I suppose it reflects our excessively social-media-driven society. The commercials are like You Tube videos watchers might make. Still, it’s hard for me to believe the commercials are what the vast majority of Americans look forward to and not the game itself.

It is a sad fact that more people probably celebrate Super Bowl Sunday than our independence day on July 4. It is a sign that cultural values have shifted along the lines of our own self-interests rather than a broader view of citizenship responsibilities. But, that’s not a good enough reason to make the Sunday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. I say let the workers suck it up and work as hard as they would on any other day. That’s what a work ethic is all about, an ethical value that is sorely lacking in our society.

Enjoy the game!

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 20, 2015. Professor Mintz teaches in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: www.ethicssage.com.