Instead of bemoaning that Super Bowl Sunday isn’t a “National Holiday,” Chris Dupuy argues that we should be declaring it a truer kind of holiday: a celebration of friends.
“The smile of an old friend heals like a sliver of sunshine on a cloudy afternoon.” —me
It happens every year at this time. Calls for Super Bowl Sunday to be declared a National Holiday.
I’m sorry to be the one throwing a bucket of cold water on that idea, but giving out a National Holiday because people are concerned about hangovers on a Monday morning feels like a bit of a stretch, if you ask me.
Oh, they’ll couch it differently of course. Many will use their kids as a human shield against the obvious self-serving nature of their calls for an extra day off from work. You know the one—“it’s such a shame that my kids can’t see the end of the game because it falls on a school night.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, nice try, but the call for Super Bowl Sunday to become an honest to goodness new holiday has little to do with anyone’s kids and everything to do with the need to pass on setting the old alarm clock once the Lombardi Trophy has been handed out late Sunday night.
I’m as big a football fan as the next guy. Probably bigger, in fact, than most. And yes, I live on the west coast where the game will end earlier, and no, I don’t drink, so there is a chance I am less sympathetic to the vocal majority calling for the free Monday because of those two data points. But c’mon—it’s just not gonna fly, right?
So, here’s a thought. Let’s drop the whole Super Bowl Sunday National Holiday talk and replace it with what seems to me to be at the core of why the day has become what it has become over the course of these 54 years of Super Bowls.
Super Bowl Sunday is a day about friends and community first, and football second. If you agree with such reasoning, what about dropping the football part of the holiday argument, and aim for calling it National Friends Day instead?
There will be around 100 million people watching the Super Bowl. The great majority will not be fans of either team.
There will be around 100 million people watching the Super Bowl. The great majority will not be fans of either team (this year’s matchup being the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers). Why will non-fans of those teams still congregate somewhere to watch the Super Bowl? Because it is a light, easy day where we can all get together for fun and entertainment, and simply be.
Most will gather with the game playing in the background but will pay little attention to the intricacies of the football action itself. Why? Because they will be catching up with friends both new and old. Having a drink and trying three different kinds of wings, and whatever the latest cool craft beer is that the guy from down the street insists must be sampled.
Personally, I’m looking forward to this Super Bowl because I believe it will be an exciting matchup. However, my real enthusiasm comes from the fact that one of my oldest friends is driving down to watch the game with us at our new home. He’s not a football fan, but he’s seizing the opportunity to come spend time with us because of the magnitude of the day itself. The Super Bowl is his excuse. Our friendship is his motivation.
My friend is the primary caregiver to his parents, both in increasingly poor health. I’ll ask him how they are doing and remind him that someone notices how selfless he is with the time he dedicates to his folks, in case he ever wonders if his pain and sacrifices are being recognized. He’ll ask me about my daughters and my job and my plans for the future, the way dear friends do when they catch up in person. We’ll laugh a lot and give each other plenty of shit. While a football game is going on.
My wife is hosting a Super Bowl party, so much general revelry will surround my old friend and me. We recently moved to our neighborhood and there will be a smattering of fresh acquaintances and new neighbors joining us for the occasion. They’ll bring chips and guac, and onion dip and hummus, and we will spread it all on little crackers and tiny pieces of bread. And over the course of four hours we’ll get to know each other better. While a football game is going on.
We’ll laugh at the commercials, either for being funny or lame. We’ll take note of which automobile manufacturer does the best job of nearly bringing us to tears with a particularly poignant commercial that will do absolutely nothing to make any one of us decide to buy a car from them as a result.
I’m also certain that at our party there will be folks who believe with every fiber of their being that witnesses need to be called. And probably a bunch of others who hope they don’t get the necessary votes. But I won’t be able to say for sure, because we won’t be talking about deeply personal beliefs that are really none of anyone’s business anyway.
No, we’ll be talking about who has KC-4 and SF-0 at halftime, thus collecting the $50 bucks in the kitty. And we’ll be sharing a chuckle as we reminisce about the old Bud Bowl commercials that used to run in the ’90s. And Spuds MacKenzie. And the Clydesdales, dammit, don’t forget the Clydesdales. And there will be moments where we look quizzically at each other, asking if anyone understood that last ad from a tech startup that seemed really deep, but maybe was just pathetic and stupid. And yeah, we’ll cheer and groan together as the game goes on.
“Shared suffering brings about the magical bond of matching scars.” —also me (keep that one in mind during the fourth quarter, San Francisco fans)
Who knows? Maybe one of the folks I meet for the first time will one day become my closest friend? Friendships are fluid that way. If one uses the litmus test of “If I were to die tomorrow, who would my pallbearers be?” as a morbid, but ultimately effective, way of measuring who our closest friends are at a point in time, my list today would be different than the one I had ten years ago. And that list was different from the group I had envisioned ten years before that. Ten years from now? Well, the likelihood that this exercise goes from conjecture to reality will certainly increase, but should I be lucky enough to simply think about it again, there’s a different group that is taking shape as we fill in the boxes on our Super Bowl pools.
I’ve got two close friends who have each made the trek to Miami this year to take in the Big Game in person for the first time. Each of them is bringing their teenage son, capitalizing on that precarious point in time when their little boy is now evolving into a man who will one day also double as a dear friend. If I were to hazard a guess, the memory of sitting side by side at their first Super Bowl will take its place as a core memory deep in their hearts to be shared and relived for the rest of their lives.
All I have to do is sign on to Facebook to be reminded of the multitude of “days” that exist for us to celebrate and post pictures over. There is Sibling Day, Dog Day, Cat Day, Administrative Professional Day (c’mon, you dinosaurs, there are no “secretaries” anymore, don’t you know anything?), and this exhaustive and mostly irrelevant list could go on for pages.
Yet, as I sit here typing and thinking about it, there isn’t a day honoring our friends and friendships. Shouldn’t there be?
There isn’t a day honoring our friends and friendships. Shouldn’t there be?
When we begin the whole “survival pyramid” discussion with sleep, water, food, and shelter, it isn’t long before the need for society and human connection takes its rightful place within the foundation of our existence, next to love and well in front of the internet.
So, maybe we should memorialize such an important human need with its own day? Love’s day is coming up in a couple of weeks. Food had its annual celebration back in November, and we worship the hours we get to spend asleep on a nightly basis. Water? Meh, we all ignore that one—even though we know we should be drinking in one ounce for every two pounds of body weight daily. I know, I know …
Okay, then how about we make a formal proposal? From this day forward, let’s proclaim the first Sunday of every February to be National Friends Day. We can have a big football game break out in its honor and encourage people around the world to celebrate with us.
And if we are truly concerned about the kids staying up past their bedtimes back east? How about as part of National Friends Day we declare that all schools must provide a delayed opening the following morning? But, no day off from work, folks. Sorry, but if you play hard on Sunday night, you play hurt Monday morning. That’s a fundamental truth of the workplace that will outlast us all.
Think about it. National Friends Day. Isn’t this something we can all get behind?