S**** Bowl

I don't have to preach today, so I thought I'd drop a little wisdom down here on the ol' blog. Topic: Church Super Bowl Parties. If you haven't heard by now, the NFL dropped a "cease and desist" this past week on an Indianapolis church who was going to show the Super Bowl at their church. The mistakes made by the Falls Creek Baptist Church were many:

1) They used the copyrighted term "Super Bowl" all over their website/advertising. 2) They advertised that they would show it on a huge projection screen . 3) They were charging admission to the event.

When the Baptists attempted to renegotiate, the NFL said, "talk to the hand." Inundated by complaints, the NFL finally did a 360, saying as long as the image shown is less the 55 inches, they're fine with it.

There are a ton of great angles on this one, but here are six I'd love to point out:

1) The fifty five inches limit will probably be challenged soon. This is supposed to be in effect for all private and public viewings. But now that they're making a whole slew of flat panels over sixty inches, I'd say they'll have to reexamine this.

2) Many say the NFL takes exception to these large viewing parties because it hurts their ratings which, in turn, brings down their advertising revenue. Really, it makes no difference unless you're a Nielsen family who has a box on your TV monitoring all your viewing habits.

I have always longed to become a Nielsen family, even sucking up to my friends who work for Nielsen [Dale and Emily!] but even they have no pull here. It's a totally random selection. If I was, however, a Nielsen family, I'd probably leave my TV on 24/7, even when away from home. What Nielsen family wouldn't have their TV tuned to the Super Bowl, anyway?

3) The NFL didn't realize who they messed with. Church folk ain't anything if they're not grumpy. This move made headlines all across the Bible Belt, even locally, as people declared this a travesty. The League has long excused sports bars of this viewing rule, giving the Christians a chance to complain of an anti-family bias.

4) What's even crazier is that another Indianapolis Baptist church that sent out a press release stating they would defy the NFL's policy and show the game on a huge screen anyway. Their pastor stated, "We want to save souls by any means necessary. Football, traditional service, street ministry -- it doesn't matter." Yikes! So now showing the Super Bowl at church is a salvational issue. If you like football and Jesus, Second Baptist is for you.

5) I find it ironic that many churches chose to take the moral high road here. Across the country churches began cancelling these Super Bowl gatherings, stating they didn't want to break laws. But churches break bigger copyright laws all the time. Whether it's mass publishing photos they don't know, making copies of curriculum, or having movie nights in the sanctuary, it's just not legal. But nobody bats an eye over that.

I'm not trying to excuse the actions. I'm just saying that there are 364 other days in a year when churches are in danger of violating copyright laws and you won't hear a thing about it after tonight. If you're going to play the "it's the law" card, do it consistently.

6) In a somewhat related note, I had to laugh that a large Texas church was giving away Super Bowl tickets [including free airfare and hotel] at their services last night. Part of their defense of the gimmick was posted on the web:

"It’s all about life change. If even one person comes hoping to win a free trip to the Super Bowl and experiences something positive in their life as a result, it’s worth the effort to do this promotion."

Um, if some church had given me free Super Bowl tickets, I'd say that would be a positive experience. This kind of thing is getting ridiculous, but that's another post.

In case you're curious, we'll be showing the Super Bo . . . er, the Big Game tonight at Echo. In case you're curious, I'm going with the Colts by ten.

Admission is free and I'm bringing a tape measure with me.