The Bengals aren’t just playing for the franchise’s first title in its 54-year history anymore. They’re playing for the kids — and maybe moreso, for the parents — of Cincinnati Public Schools.
CPS announced that schools will be closed the Monday following Super Bowl LVI for students and staff, which will mark the Bengals’ first appearance in the championship in over 30 years. Monday, February 14, has the potential to either be one of the greatest days of these kids’ lives or a citywide public crisis of approximately 36,000 heartbroken children (assuming that most of the CPS student population are Bengals fans).
The school system seems to have an admirably unwavering faith in the ability of the Bengals to beat the Rams, writing in a letter obtained by ESPN, “We hope that you enjoy roaring the Bengals to a win on Sunday and take this time to take pride in our incredible city and amazing football team.”
Oh, to be in Cincinnati that night if the Bengals win. Even Joe Burrow may not think it’s too boring — for once, Cincy might just be the place to be. They’re looking unstoppable with Burrow at the helm after coming back from an 18-point deficit against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (and the greatest opponent of all, an unfavorable overtime coin flip) this past weekend.
But if the worst comes to pass for the Bengals, parents all over the city are going to have some very sad children on their hands. If I had to bet, I’d probably put some money down on a large chunk of the Cincy adult workforce calling in sick that Monday, win or lose, but there might end up being an epidemic of misery this Valentine’s Day with nothing to distract the students after a possible loss (not that pre-algebra would really soften the blow of a Super Bowl loss. Might take your mind off it for a moment, though). At least they have the option to sleep through the day if they want to, I suppose.
In the case of a win, though, I hope those kids get to party in the streets of Cincinnati and make some memories they’ll have for a lifetime. Bedtimes don’t exist when the Bengals are in the Super Bowl! Curfews? Not a chance. Without the threat of the bus coming at 6:30 in the morning, fans of all ages will just get to bask in the celebration with their city.
I was in a similar situation a little over five years ago as a Chicago Public Schools student on the day after the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in over a century. That CPS did not give us the day off school, so we all just showed up running on about three hours of sleep, deliriously happy, half-asleep through our Thursday class schedule. (If I remember correctly, a lot of us skipped school for the celebration parade.)
In the end, a day off school is a day off school, so it’s a victory for the students either way. The last time the Bengals were in a Super Bowl, the Berlin Wall was still standing (relevant history lesson there, Cincy teachers!), so even reaching the championship is a huge win for the city. The Rams are currently favored with a 4.5-point spread.