Steven Senne, AP
A New England Patriots fan dances during an NFL football Super Bowl send-off rally for the team, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. The Los Angeles Rams are to play the Patriots in Super Bowl 53 on Feb. 3, in Atlanta, Ga.

SALT LAKE CITY — Every year during Super Bowl week, stories faithfully report how bodacious the game has become. And it has. People who wouldn’t know a placekicker from a placemat suddenly feign interest. Non-fans attend watch parties.

It’s the only way to get anyone to talk to you during bowl week.

At the other end of the spectrum are the truly invested. A survey conducted by personal finance website WalletHub claims 52 percent of Americans would be happy to give up a year’s vacation time in exchange for their favorite team winning the Super Bowl. Since I have fair experience at both vacationing and Super Bowls, I feel safe in saying there is no comparison.

I’ll take a sunset in Kauai every time.

Apparently I’m missing something, and this is where the WalletHub survey really fakes me out. It says 31 percent of respondents would give up their annual bonus to have their favorite team win the Super Bowl.

Sounds to me like a lot of people are getting measly bonuses.

It goes on to say 14 percent of fans would trade their savings balance to see their team win the big game. What’s in their savings account, $40?

Lastly comes the 3 percent of fans who claim they would trade their 401(k) for a win in the Super Bowl. Seriously.

Financial adviser: “OK, so you’d like to retire in 10 years. Do you have a 401(k)?”

“Sort of.”

“Meaning … what?”

“Well, I withdrew all the money.”


“I exchanged it for a Rams win in the 2019 Super Bowl! Worth it!”

Adviser: “Get out of my office.”

The survey says 23 percent of people would skip a vacation to have their favorite team win, 21 percent would miss out on important work, 20 percent would forgo the wedding of a family member, and 19 percent would dismiss a loved one’s funeral.

Fifteen percent of respondents say they’d neglect the birth of their child, given the choice between that and a bowl win. I’m guessing 100 percent would miss their child’s conception, if they ever admitted that to their spouse.

Political drama has become idiotic in recent years, but sports are coming up on the inside lane. I can confidently say not even 23 percent of players would give up their vacation for a Super Bowl win, and none would relinquish their savings balance or 401(k).

Yet extreme fans would gladly do it.

On the serious side, placing such emphasis on sport seems like a sign of poor self-esteem. Should identifying with a winner matter that much? I partially blame movies like “Happy Gilmore” and “Fever Pitch.” They make super-fandom look way too cool.

“Dr. Drew Ramsey, a Columbia professor of psychiatry and co-author of 'The Happiness Diet,' believes that fan engagement tips into the danger area as it moves beyond idle interest,” writes Vulture.

The worst kind of fandom is like this week’s match between Millwall and Everton. A man says he was inadvertently swept up in hooligan violence and ended up with a slashed face.

It’s hard to imagine anyone going to a sporting event intending to get bloodied and beaten.

I’ve always been glad to be in journalism, where there's no need to be a fan. I’m in favor of eliminating anything that makes my blood pressure rise.

2 comments on this story

I get enough of that just going through security at an airport.

A friend once told me, “I watched you at the Jazz game. You didn’t cheer at all. You just sat there, and once in a while wrote something down or typed on your screen. I don’t know how you do that.”

I mostly try to treat it like work.

I don’t understand how people can care enough about sports to lose friends, much less their teeth at a game. All I know is it’s a high price to pay. But getting distanced from your savings and retirement accounts?

That’s in a league of its own.