As the Super Bowl quickly approaches, so does one of the most unproductive days of the year in the United States, known as “Super Bowl Monday.”
There are around 100 million Americans expected to tune in to the final game of the NFL playoffs this Sunday. Yet, only a fraction of these individuals are expected to attend work the next day. According to a survey conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos in 2021, 16.1 million Americans reported their plans to miss work on the Monday after the Super Bowl, leading to anywhere from $3.5B to $6.5B in lost productivity across the country. However, two Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee believe that they have the answer to this annual issue in our nation’s workforce, even if it means removing a holiday with special meaning to the Italian American community.
Senator London Lamar and Representative Joe Towns Jr. have introduced a bill, known as SB1344/HB1463, that would make Super Bowl Monday an official holiday in the Volunteer State. To compensate for this additional day off, the Memphis Democrats have proposed eliminating Columbus Day from the state’s calendar.
The full text of the bill is: “Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 15-1-101, is amended by deleting the language ‘the second Monday in October, known as ‘Columbus Day’;’ and by inserting the language ‘the first Monday after the Super Bowl, known as ‘Super Bowl Monday’;’ immediately following the language ”Washington Day’;’.”
Tennessee has approximately 100,000 Italian Americans, representing roughly 1.5% of the state’s population. To them, this proposal is deeply inconsiderate as such a holiday could be created without removing the only day of the year that is dedicated to celebrating Italian American heritage.
For example, the Super Bowl could take place on the third Sunday in February instead of the second to coincide with the federal holiday known as Presidents’ Day. That way, many adults and children would get to enjoy a day off on the Monday following the Super Bowl for Washington’s Birthday without having to sacrifice Columbus Day.
Currently, at least thirteen states do not recognize Columbus Day as an official state holiday, choosing to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead despite the presence of other holidays devoted to this group such as Native American Heritage Day. While Italian Americans across the country have seen Columbus Day dismantled in favor of a holiday to honor Native American heritage, this proposal in Tennessee is perhaps more hurtful in the sense that it compares the importance of giving Italian Americans an opportunity to celebrate their culture to the importance of giving NFL fans an opportunity to sleep in until 11:00 AM and get a day off work to digest chicken wings.
There has never been a holiday associated with the Super Bowl in the United States unless you count the instance last year when Cincinnati Public Schools chose to cancel school in the city following the Bengals’ participation in Super Bowl LVI. However, there have been attempts to gain recognition of Super Bowl Monday at the federal level.
In 2013, a petition was created that asked the White House to recognize Super Bowl Monday as a holiday, but it fell short of the necessary amount of signatures required for the President to respond. There was also another petition created in 2019 that generated nearly 15,000 signatures, but this effort also proved futile.
The bottom line is that Italian Americans in the US deserve to see Columbus Day preserved as a celebration of their heritage. It should not be replaced by a sporting event, no matter how popular.