Every year our ministry provides fun resources for for all the churches and youth groups that have Super Bowl parties. Last year, a wrench was thrown in the works… the NFL cracked down on churches showing the game on the big screen.
Yep… no joke. This actually doesn’t surprise me. Any Monday Night Football fan remembers that little disclaimer they make about the game not being for public showing, yada, yada, yada. Well, some churches have these giant Super Bowl parties and charge admission.
Well, the NFL is cracking down on these large gatherings watching the game on the big screen.
Here are the two issues: collecting money, and screen size.
The Daily Progress out of Charlottesville, VA has an article talking about this situation. This article talks about the Indianapolis church that was told they couldn’t show the game on the big screen. A Charlottesville lawyer, John W. Whitehead, wants to fight this, saying that “he’d sue if he could only find a church willing to sign on as a client.” (Really? A lawyer wants to sue?)
The article goes into detail:
At issue is a law and corresponding league rule that says the Super Bowl can’t be shown to gatherings on a screen larger than 55 inches.
Whitehead, who has made a career in part by defending religious groups on free speech issues, says that rule keeps most churches from being able to host Super Bowl parties and show the game.
“It’s absurd to say that anyone in a larger crowd can watch it on a 55-inch screen,” he said. “They can’t.”
The league’s policy is modeled after the federal Copyright Act, and does not unfairly target churches, according to an NFL spokesman.
“Our position on this is that we have absolutely no objection to churches and others hosting Super Bowl viewing parties as long as they don’t charge admission and they show the game on a television of the type that is commonly used at home,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Is a lawsuit the answer?
Here’s my two cents: Fair or not, it’s a law. We need to obey it.
But don’t worry… we CAN still have superbowl parties, IN HOMES. That’s right. Personally, that’s more fun anyway. It’s more intimate. For large churches or youth groups, what a great way to connect people with others in their area. Have “area Super Bowl parties.”
And as for the money? Don’t charge admission, just make it a “bring your own snack” party. Admission is a bag of Doritos or a 2 Liter of Pepsi.
A few examples of what this can look like:
I was one of the leaders of a young couple’s ministry at my church a few years ago. We used to have a Super Bowl party at one of the leader’s house and invite the whole young couple’s class. We had about 30 people show up. It was a big house with a big TV and a big freaking couch!!! It was a lot of fun.
When I was in high school (WAAAAAAAAAY back in the day), my youth group used to always have a Super Bowl party at one of the youth leaders’ houses. This was always great fun. Our youth group was a decent size, about 70 kids weekly. This youth leader built bleachers in his house… (it was awesome) in two different rooms. All the fans for one team went in one room, all the fans of the other went in the other room (he wasn’t trying to cause divisions, the rooms were only so big… we needed multiple rooms to fit all the kids). I’ll always remember that Super Bowl.
Oh… and screen size? Do you remember what TV’s used to be in the 80’s? (okay… I just dated myself. I was in high school in the 80’s. Yes… pegged pants, an Izod with the collar up, a white Miami Vice jacket… the whole bit!) A BIG TV in the 80’s was 27 inches, unless you were one of the few people who had those funky projection BIG SCREENS with the three lights shining on it (and you couldn’t even see the picture unless you weren’t dead center). Yes… that memorable Super Bowl I saw on the bleachers in a living room in high school was on a 25″ TV.
So I have no problem with 55 inches.
So… this year our ministry will be providing its annual Super Bowl activity ideas, including a fun little Super Bowl quiz- a competition predicting the results of the game. (here’s last year’s quiz) People take the quiz before the game starts answering who they think will catch the most passes, which team will score first, who will get the most field goals, etc. After the game, you tally up the results and see who did the best on the “quiz.”
So throw your Super Bowl parties this year. Just 1. don’t charge 2. and “keep it on a on a television of the type that is commonly used at home,” to quote that NFL spokesman word for word.
So who’s gonna win?