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Super Bowl XLI: Cancel It Or Lose Productivity

Monday, 29 Jan 2007 | 4:42 PM ET

Huh? Cancel the Super Bowl in order to work better? Did you read this right? Well, it seems flu shots may help us stay on the job in winter, but if you really want to prevent lost productivity in January -- just cancel the Super Bowl. Un-American you say? Perhaps. But John Challenger told CNBC's Erin Burnett that the National Football League's annual orgy of touchdowns, tackles and sofa-oriented gluttony--may cost U.S. employers some $800 million this week.

The eponymous (the company is named after him) CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas -- a provider of executive recruitment and staffing consultance -- declared that telemetry based on past years, indicates that Super Bowl XLI would draw in 90 million viewers, with 57 million of those gainfully employed. For those workers, he used an earning-power metric of $22 per hour -- and assumed that those pigskin fanatics will each spend 10 minutes per day, on the employer's dime, surfing the Internet and glancing at newspapers.

Super Bowl Study
A new study finds the buildup to the Super Bowl costs American businesses some $800 million in lost productivity, with John Challenger, Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO and CNBC"s Erin Burnett

Breakdown by team: Challenger's firm estimates that the Colts' Indianapolis will lose $13 million in work-time; and the Bears' Chicago will lose $73 million. (What would CNBC guest Mike Ditka say about such slacking?)

And the effect includes a time delay: chalk it up to emotional stress, or to the silos of beer commonly consumed at Bowl parties -- but expect some 6% of U.S. laborers to take off from work the day after the game.

CNBC.com readers might already know this legend: the supposed metaphysical connection between the outcome of the Super Bowl and the fate of the stock market. Folklore -- based on statistics -- says that if the winning team hails from the AFC (American Football Conference), the market will sag; but a victor from the ranks of the NFC (National Football Conference) bodes a bull market. (Translation for non-fans: Go Bears.)

That old black "Bowl" magic has been on the money 30 out of 37 times -- one wonders if one's broker can say the same.

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  • Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs."

  • Co-anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs," Amanda Drury is based at the network's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.