Eight days ago, on January 26 (a Sunday), I invited a group of friends over to my apartment to watch the Royal Rumble, one of the WWE’s annual wrestling events that doubles as both narratively consequential (for serious wrestling fans) and immensely accessible (for casual/nonexistent wrestling fans). Everyone brought food and consumed between two and six alcoholic beverages; it was a good time, as it is every year, diminished only by the fact that some people couldn’t make it, because they were professionally obligated to watch the Grammys, which were also taking place that night.
Last night, on February 2 (a Sunday), I went over to a friend’s apartment to watch the Super Bowl, the NFL’s annual championship event that doubles as both narratively consequential (for serious football fans) and immensely accessible (for casual/nonexistent wrestling fans). Everyone brought food and consumed between two and six alcoholic beverages; it was a good time, as it is every year, even if we had to suffer through Mr. Peanut’s funeral.
Six days from now, on February 9 (a Sunday), I will go to a friend’s apartment to watch the Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual awards event that doubles as both critically consequential (for serious movie watchers) and immensely accessible (for people who don’t care who Pauline Kael is). Everyone will bring food and consume between two and six alcoholic beverages; it will be — okay, you get the idea.
This row of occupied Sundays is not an isolated occasion. Here’s how these events have been scheduled, dating back to 2010:
Some trends emerge: The Grammys and the Royal Rumble often fall on the same night; the Grammys and the Oscars move around the calendar, but the Super Bowl and the Royal Rumble do not; every year has one stretch of two events in a row; most years, there’s a stretch of three events in a row; in one cursed year (2012), four straight Sundays in a row were occupied with shit to do.
Alright, so most people don’t care about wrestling, which I’m including here mostly because it’s important to me, but even if you lop that off, the numbers are about the same.
Now, I know all these events take place in January or February or March because they all celebrate or serve as capstones to things that mostly happened the year before, like the NFL season or that weird moment when basically everyone agreed to see Avatar.
But why Sunday, every year? Partly, it’s logistical: The stadiums where these events take place are booked months or years in advance, coinciding with concerts, sports games, and other miscellaneous happenings. Narrowing it to one day is much easier for scheduling; if the organizers know it’s going to take place during this one range of Sundays, rather than any possible day of the week, it’s easier to avoid conflict.
But also… why Sunday? NFL Sunday is basically codified as a day of worship, so they get the Super Bowl. There’s no reason for the other stuff. The obvious logic that the average American is more likely to be at home on Sunday, given that it’s the beginning of the work week, and they’re likely not “going as hard” (whether that means binge drinking or spending time with one’s family) as they would be on a proper weekend, or casually open weeknight. The same logic dictates why plenty of prestige television airs on Sunday night.
How about Thursday?
I know there is probably oodles of data supporting this idea. But the joy of being home on Sunday with nothing to do is that you can spend it however you want, doing anything. You don’t need to be locked into watching all four to five hours of one thing, which is what all these events are: immensely long and unskippable, a feeling that doubles if you happen to be at someone else’s house, and can’t just sort of idly mess around when you’re bored. Maybe one evening frittered away on an awards ceremony is fun, but three Sundays in a row? When I could really use that night to pass out a little early, and get a good start to the week? (All of these events usually run past 11 p.m. on the East Coast, where I live, and occasionally even midnight.) Torture!
Okay, so you don’t have to watch these things, and just go to sleep. But communal participation is what makes society hum, and it’s only natural to want to pay attention along with everyone else, not because you’re some kind of sheep-brained follower, but because it’s fun. And okay, you could have fun in some other way, but if you are not Michel Houellebecq or a book critic, it’s actually fun to do things with other people.
Plus there’s the fact that, secretly, most people often don’t have much to do, and if you threw the Grammys or the Oscars on Saturday every once in a while you’d be surprised by how many people would watch. Just every once in a while, that’s all I’m asking for. I bet ratings would go down a little bit, but it would be better for me, and I’m sure some other people. (The Grammys were held on a Monday in 2016, though that Monday was also President’s Day, which meant work started on Tuesday. Not good enough.)
How about Thursday? The next day is Friday, which makes it easier to be exhausted or hungover or not really paying attention. Or, again, Saturday? It’s cold in January and February, everyone could use an excuse to stay in on the weekend. But there’s really a whole range of days, like Wednesday or Friday. We can do whatever we want.
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