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Posted: Wednesday January 28, 2009 12:43PM; Updated: Wednesday January 28, 2009 12:43PM
Frank Deford Frank Deford >
VIEWPOINT

Super Bowl Sunday is a holiday

Story Highlights

Super Bowl Sunday is an accepted part of the American calendar

Like Christmas, Super Bowl Sunday is a whole season

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Super Bowl Sunday appeals to the greater American public, not just football fans.
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So much has changed in my lifetime -- except perhaps one important thing: the very calendar we live our lives by.

Oh, I remember my father used to have to work half-a-day Saturday. I guess that's largely gone out for most jobs -- just five days a week. And schools and college schedules are different. They never used to open before Labor Day, and graduations were in June. Now school bells ring in August and hardly as April left us before graduation speakers start their bloviating. But I think that's about it in calendar revisions -- except, of course, two new holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day and . . . Super Bowl Sunday.

No, like Halloween and Valentine's Day, Super Sunday isn't an official paid holiday, but let's face it: it's grown to become as much an accepted part of the modern American calendar as President's Day or Memorial Day. Super Sunday is certainly far more in our consciousness than is, say, Earth Day or Veterans Day or Columbus Day. It's left Arbor Day in the veritable dust. Why, I'd say Super Sunday has now even become a more traditional day to drink than St. Patrick's Day. Ah, now who amongst us would have ever thought such a thing? And, at the end of the day, I'd suggest that Super Sunday is actually much more Father's Day than is Father's Day itself. Why don't we just combine the two and send out cards to Daddy now?

The greater beauty of Super Sunday, though, is that it has done such a wonderful job of appropriating those more discriminating citizens who do not worship Saint Pigskin. You see, the attention paid to Super Bowl commercials and the halftime show -- this year featuring Bruce Springsteen -- nearly rivals that of the incidental game itself. So it's a real big-tent holiday. Were Norman Rockwell still alive, he'd surely eschew Thanksgiving scenes and paint a typical American family fondly foregathering round the Super Bowl pre-game show.

By contrast, the Academy Awards, which is usually the second-most watched show on TV, only features fashion as it's alternate attraction. That's just coals to Newcastle, appealing to the same movie-star fans who would normally tune in. If the Oscars would only take a page out of the Super Bowl book, they'd stop for a few minutes in the middle of the show and have a football scrimmage.

Moreover, unlike most very official holidays, Super Bowl Sunday is a whole season, like Christmas. The 14 days of Super Bowl begin after the conference championships. We are in the 10th day of Super Bowl right now. On the 10th day of Super Bowl my true love gave to me 10 scalpers scalping . . . three photo ops, two quarterbacks and a point spread from a bookie.

I suspect, though, that this is going to be something of a down year for Super Sunday, sort of like when The Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday so we can't wrench it into a long weekend. One of the teams is the Arizona Cardinals, who have previously been to football what April 15th -- tax day -- is to the calendar. And whereas the Super Bowl plays well when war is uppermost in our minds, since it always goes heavy on the martial, what with fighter jets whooshing overhead and great dollops of patriotic display, its wretched excess doesn't relate well to economic distress.

Nevertheless, for all of us here at SI.com, may I wish you and yours a very Merry Super Sunday and a Happy Groundhog Day.

 
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