The big game’s come and gone, marking the end of football season. Regardless of whether you were routing for the Eagles, the Patriots, or Justin Timberlake, you’ve likely had enough time to at least nominally make peace with the outcome of the game. By the time you read this, you may have even had enough time to clean up your place from hosting a big Super Bowl party. Even so, the Monday after the Super Bowl is historically one of the biggest days for people to call in sick to work in the US.
This year, nearly 14 million workers planned to call in sick today according to a survey from the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Mucinex. People who had planned to exhibit so much enthusiasm for their team, that they wanted a day to rest and recover. That’s actually down from 16.5 million who had planned to call in sick last year, and neither number includes people who called in sick because they actually were sick.
Heinz tried to get Congress to make it a national holiday and, even though they were unsuccessful, gave all their employees the day off because productivity drops so much anyway. Nationally, 72% of HR managers think it should be a national holiday as well, presumably because they also see the negative impact on productivity as well.
Every year, the Super Bowl is nationally the most watched thing on television. Of the 20 most watched US broadcasts of all time, 19 were Super Bowls. (The finale to M*A*S*H being the one exception.) For the last several years, viewership of the entire game has floated north of 110,000,000. That’s about one-third of the entire US population. Another 50-60,000,000 watched part of each of the games.
Fandom, according to the introductory sentence in its Wikipedia entry, “is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.” I bring that up in this context because of the word “subculture.” Can that be legitimately applied to such a vast cross-section of the whole population? Can there be a fandom if that is indeed such a dominant part of the culture?
Not to be sure, that doesn’t preclude one from being a fan, which is just an expression of enthusiasm or devotion, but it does seem to suggest that a large enough group of fans can outgrow the notion of fandom to become… what? A culture? A lifestyle? I haven’t researched this enough to say for sure, but it does seem that “fandom” is inadequate.
And this also isn’t to say there aren’t fandoms within this broader group. Fans of either team could be considered a fandom, for example. Or fans of Timberlake. But a fandom built up around the Super Bowl itself seems lacking in its description for such a widely embraced aspect of society writ large.