Super Bowl Saturday? Fans would love extra day but NFL not feeling it
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An enemy in foreign land, Bil Shockley describes himself as a "lone blue jersey in a sea of Southern Maryland burgundy." He is a diehard New York Giants fan, which makes for interesting conversation when the restaurant owner is serving up The Bilvil Burger (mushrooms, gorgonzola and onion crisps) to his mostly Redskin and Ravens clientele at Bilvil, the beachside café he owns in North Beach, Maryland, about 20 minutes south of Annapolis.
Like millions of other Americans, Shockley will watch Sunday's game between the Steelers and Packers. But if he had his druthers, the Super Bowl would be played on Saturday. Last year he and one of his cooks were discussing the best day to play the game and the playful debate carried out into the dining room. "It seemed to me that a Saturday Super Bowl would permit fans to better celebrate the event," Shockey said. "It would still drive business, but not negatively impact productivity on Monday."
Inspired, Shockley took a path many Americans have embarked on when looking to drum up support: He turned to Facebook, proposing that the Super Bowl be moved to Saturday (and the Pro Bowl to Sunday). So far he's gotten 23 people to go along with him, including nine acquaintances. As far as revolutions go, we're not exactly talking Che Guevara, but a movement has to start somewhere. "Most of my postings are a bit tongue in cheek but with some conviction behind them," Shockley said. "This was no different."
He's not the only one who has proposed the notion, at least on social media. There are a number of "Move The Super Bowl to Saturday" petitions on Facebook in addition to plenty of writers calling for a national holiday on Monday because of the lateness of the game (and the high degree of workplace absenteeism the following day). How does the league respond to the idea of moving the Super Bowl to Saturday?
"We hear this each year," said league spokesman Brian McCarthy. "The concept of playing the Super Bowl on a Sunday has worked well for 44 years and we don't anticipate moving away from this tradition. Fans expect to see the Super Bowl on a Sunday, the day on which 89.2 percent of NFL games are played."
Could a Saturday Super Bowl be successful? As the NFL's former senior vice president of special events, Jim Steeg worked on 26 Super Bowls during his tenure and is now a well-respected sports consultant based in San Diego. "Most people for the Super Bowl come in Friday and go home Monday morning," Steeg said. "I remember seeing a study a couple of years ago that said the average length of a stay at a Super Bowl was 3.3 days. So people pay for four days and stay for three. If you switched it to a Saturday, that one less day could decrease revenue, which might not be good for the local community."
"Remember, a lot of things take place Saturday night, like the Owners' party," added Rodney Barreto, the chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Committee. Baretto has been the host chairman for two Super Bowls (2007 and 2010) and is currently leading the charge to bring the game back to South Florida in 2015. "Obviously, if it came down from the NFL that they were changing the Super Bowl from Sunday to Saturday, we would adjust," Barreto said. "From an organizers perspective, I like having the game on Sunday because most people show up to town on Friday."
That's also the consensus from around Dallas this week, at least when it comes to those who have participated in the game.
"I like the game on Sunday; it just feels right," said Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman, who won three Super Bowls as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys "The NFL is a game on Sunday. But I have a better suggestion: They should just give everybody off on Monday. I like the idea of being off work, but I'd like to keep the game on Sunday,"
"I think it's a bad idea because you would miss a day of hoopla," said longtime television analyst John Madden, who was part of 11 Super Bowls during his announcing career. "Saturday is a day no one works, and then Sunday would be the post-game day. That's not a good day for postgame stuff."
"Moving the game to Saturday is giving too much power to this game," said Derrick Brooks, who won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2002 and is now an analyst for Sirius NFL Radio. "We like to think everyone in America is watching the Super Bowl but there are other things going on."
Brooks added that it would have no impact with players if the game were moved up by a day, even if practice and walk-through schedules were changed. "Players make adjustments," said Brooks, who played linebacker for 14 years and retired in 2008. "Any time there is a rule change, players do what they have to do. It would not mess with the players' psyche at all.
"I'm sure we could adjust," said Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly. "You have the bye weeks and here we'd have just one less day. But Super Bowl Saturday just doesn't have the same ring to it. I don't think it would go over well."
Obviously, television would play a huge role with any potential change, and Sunday has long been the most-watched night on television and a proven-ratings winner. How big a risk would it be to move to Saturday night for network TV partners?
"You have to look where the ratings have been and where the most viewership is," Steeg said. "The NFL tradition is Sunday and it's tough to break that tradition. Would you take the risk of moving, and what would be the potential of the change, plus or minus?
Eric Stangel, the head writer and executive producer of the Late Show with David Letterman, offered perhaps the most blunt assessment. "People haven't watched TV on a Saturday night since the Love Boat/Fantasy Island ABC powerhouse block of the 70s and 80s."
The NFL is not immune to change in this area. Games are now played on Monday, Thursday and Saturday (The league used to play regular-season games on Saturday afternoon but the practice was discontinued). "I didn't think Monday Night Football was a good idea and I didn't think Thursday Night Football was a good idea," said Fox NFL Sunday host Terry Bradshaw. "But if you moved the Super Bowl up one day or down one day, people would still come. I can be down with that. This is the Super Bowl. It doesn't matter. I'd be there on Saturday, too."
So would Shockley, and he'd like to see the Pro Bowl played on the same weekend to create an overload of pro football. "With a Saturday Super Bowl and the opportunity to see some of the NFL's greats playing in the Pro Bowl next day, the nod to tradition could be overcome," he said.
While a Saturday Super Bowl is not likely to happen anytime soon, McCarthy did have a message for those bleary-eyed fans heading into work on Monday. The upcoming labor negotiations could result in a regular season that starts after Labor Day and ends the day before a federal holiday. Said the NFL spokesman: "Some consolation for your group: if we move to an enhanced season with an 18-game regular season, there's a possibility that the Super Bowl could fall on President's Day Weekend."
In other words, enjoy your Monday off, and your Super Bowl Sunday.
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