On February 1 at 1 PM the 43rd Ward Democrats will hold a forum featuring the candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary to replace Rahm Emanuel as congressman of the Fifth Congressional District.

There’s only one problem: February 1 is Super Bowl Sunday.

As I long ago learned, when it comes to politics the world is divided into two camps: the relatively small number of people who actually follow what’s going on, and the swelling mass of humanity who couldn’t care less so long as they get to watch TV.

So the question of the day is, who would schedule a candidate’s forum on Super Bowl Sunday?

As 43rd Ward committeeman Michele Smith explains, they didn’t really have much choice. The special election’s been on an expedited schedule. It was only in November that Emanuel was reelected. He officially stepped down to become President Obama’s chief of staff earlier this month. The deadline for filing nominating petitions was January 19. The election is March 3. From start to finish the whole thing’s over in a blink.

“I realize there are better days to have a forum,” says Smith. “But there really weren’t a lot of days to choose from.”

Smith admits she’s not the world’s biggest sports fan (“I don’t know who’s in the Super Bowl this year — New England, are they in it?”). But she says she’s starting to pick up an appreciation of what sports means to the rest of society.

“I made a discovery when I was in corporate America — everything in life is a sports analogy,” she says. “And everybody plays golf. I don’t play golf. By the way, who is in the Super Bowl?”

It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars we gave them to fix up Soldier Field, didn’t even make the playoffs.

But let’s cut Smith and her Lincoln Park Democrats some slack. The forum promises to be a great show. Lynn Sweet, the Sun-Times political columnist and Washington bureau chief, will be the moderator, so the questions should be sharp. It’s in the multipurpose room of the DePaul Student Center at 2250 N. Sheffield, just down the street from the Fullerton el stop, so it’s easy to get to. Most important, the forum ends at 3 PM and kickoff’s not till 5:20.

So you have no excuses, couch potatoes.