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Opening day as holiday? No reason to stop there

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Get out your sports calendars and let the debate begin.

For too long, we’ve worked sports into our holiday calendars. That is backward. Sports are reason enough to create a holiday.

Just ask Ozzie Smith. The Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop is launching a campaign to turn Major League Baseball’s opening day into a national holiday.

That’s right, everybody gets a day off work at the first sound of “play ball!”

“There are 22 million people who have, some point in time, played hooky from work or school, so it’s already an unofficial holiday,” Smith told MLB.com during a video chat Tuesday.

Why not make it official and give everyone a legitimate excuse to take a day off and watch baseball?

Smith is taking his campaign on the road, urging 100,000 fans to sign a petition that will get the attention of the White House. The movement gained 20,000 signatories in its first 48 hours.

As you might surmise, the publicity stunt has a commercial slant to it, with a prominent

brewer sponsoring the tour. Smith’s love of opening day, though, is genuine.

“The excitement that is created by opening day — not only in St. Louis, but across the country — is what this is all about,” he said.

Hey, let’s not stop there. If MLB’s start deserves a holiday for sports fans, there are other dates that deserve equal treatment.

How about these sports holidays?

Monday after the Super Bowl: Is there a tougher morning to climb out of bed than this day? The sports hangover of a late game with endless commercials, a marathon halftime show and (if lucky) a decent football game requires a paid holiday — or at least a two-hour delay.

Hockey Day: Every Feb. 29th, fans are required to watch a hockey game that is not part of the Olympics or the Stanley Cup as a sign of friendship with our Canadian neighbors.

March Madness: The second and third round of the NCAA men’s basketball tourney on a Thursday/Friday in mid-March already is a de facto holiday for many of us, including those filling seats at work. Let’s make it official. Everyone gets the day off.

Better yet, let’s make it a combo holiday with St. Patrick’s Day. The parents of basketball inventor James Naismith were from Scotland, which, according to my geography, is somewhere near Ireland. That is close enough. Erin go hoops!

July 1: Guaranteed no snow day at Paoli Peaks. If there is still snow in Indiana, everyone gets to ski for free on this holiday. (Your odds are looking very good.)

Hibernation Day: Of course, we must have a national day of mourning on the day the Cubs are officially eliminated from the playoffs. By my calculation, this will occur about Aug. 28 this season. By the way, at 106 years, this is older than every other national holiday except Independence Day.

Colts Tuesday: OK, not a national holiday, but any Tuesday after a Monday night Colts game should be a day off in Indiana. Who wants to go to work after staying up past midnight watching the game and then lying awake with a postgame buzz?

Dec. 7, Larry Bird’s birthday: We can all take time to reflect on the story of how Indiana’s basketball god was born in a manger in West Baden.

Dec. 24-Jan. 5, Football fortnight: We’ve already got holidays here, but there is just not enough time to squeeze in every possible college bowl game without spilling into weekday afternoons. Let’s make it simple and just all take off for two weeks to watch football.

There you have it. Those are my days off. I have already put in for my time off. Who is with me?

Happy holidays.

Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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