Survey Data Proves Just How Foolishly the Super Bowl Makes Us Behave

It's the time of year to eat poorly, spend too much, then call in sick

It’s possible that about 11 percent of the total American workforce will be calling out of work on Monday, according to a poll conducted by Harris for the Workforce Institute.
Photo Illustration, Amber McAden, Source: Getty Images

The funny thing about traditions is that, the longer they endure, the harder it is to see just how strange some of them really are. There’s probably no better example of this maxim than the Super Bowl, which well north of 100 million of us will be watching on Sunday evening. Even though many of us actually don’t care for sports, don’t understand football so well, or think much of the NFL, we will watch. For this game, we will spend money we don’t have, eat food we know we shouldn’t, and then use all of it as an excuse to skip work the next day. Don’t believe it? Adweek drew out some telling data points from this year’s crop of consumer surveys related to the Super Bowl, and supplies the proof below.

We’re very superstitious about this game

Legion are the stories of superstitious baseball fans who wear the same cap, sit in the same chair or refuse to speak during the game—but it turns out that many of us are just as worried about jinxing the Super Bowl. According to a survey by BCW Fan Experience, 21 percent of us eat the same food, 35 percent wear the same outfit, and 41 percent insist on sitting in the same spot while the Big Game is on.

We watch it for reasons that have nothing to do with football

According to a recent poll by Remington Research Group, only 34 percent of Americans who plan to watch the game are actually looking forward to the game itself. So what’s left to get stoked about? Well, 20 percent of us look forward to the commercials, 10 percent the halftime show, and 8 percent look forward to a Super Bowl party.

We spend ridiculous amounts of money on it

According to the National Retail Federation, American adults will drop just over $81 each on purchases related to the Super Bowl. Collectively, that comes to $14.8 billion, which is more than we spend on Halloween (about $9 billion) and just under what we spend on dad at Father’s Day (a bit over $15 billion.) Mind you, the $81 figure pertains to people who are watching the game. When it comes to actually attending it, the figures climb into the stratosphere. GoBankingRates recently conducted a poll that asked how much money people would be willing to drop to attend Super Bowl LIII. The average came to $1,604—but 43 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to go up to $4,000. Turns out, they’d probably have to. The average ticket price for the game stands at around $6,000, though at press time, resale site TicketIQ listed a pair of nosebleed seats at $2,328 each.

The Super Bowl makes us misplace our priorities

The BCW Fan Experience survey found that nearly a third of us—29 percent—would actually reschedule our wedding day if it conflicted with a favorite team playing in the Super Bowl. And that’s just the average number. When it comes to millennials specifically, the number who’d reschedule their wedding day jumps to 38 percent.

We use it as an excuse to eat stuff that’s bad for us

According to Nielsen data, sales of ranch/blue cheese salad dressing, tortilla chips and deli dips, increases by 14, 16 and 20 percent in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. In late January, Offers.com surveyed a thousand consumers to determine what their favorite Super Bowl snacks were. Predictably, we won’t be sharing these choices with our doctors during the yearly physical. Pizza and “meat & wings” tied for first at 26 percent, followed by nachos (22 percent), guacamole (11 percent) and chili (9 percent.) When it comes to beverages, beer and soda are a fave of 63 percent of respondents, and 14 percent will be knocking back cocktails.

We use it as an excuse to gamble

The American Gaming Association recently revealed that 1 in 10 of us (close to 23 million people) have money riding on the outcome of the Super Bowl—some $6 billion total worth of bets. While most of those wagers will be about the outcome of the game itself, the Super Bowl offers a dizzying array of spreads that people can wager on. Online betting site BetDSI lets you bet on how long Gladys Knight will take to sing the National Anthem, and how many times Donald Trump will tweet during the game.

We use it to forget all that self-improvement stuff

While somewhere around 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, about a third of that number uses the Super Bowl to pretend they didn’t. According to findings from Remington Research Group, 31 percent of Americans say they’ll break their resolutions on Super Bowl Sunday.

And we’ll blame it when we fail to show for work on Monday

According to the “Super Bowl Fever Survey”—an annual poll conducted by Harris for the Workforce Institute—it’s very possible that 17.2 million of us (about 11 percent of the total American workforce) will be calling out of work on Monday, making it the year’s biggest sick day—even though, of course, few of those people will actually be sick. Productivity losses owing to the absenteeism could cost American businesses upwards of $2.64 billion.

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