Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of Parties That Were Not Meant To Be

It's Sunday morning, February 4th, and in the next couple of hours the leadership here at NewLife Community Church & I will make our final decision on closing down our Super Bowl party. Oops.. excuse me. Since the NFL has chosen to exert their legal right to the copyrighted name, I'll go O.T. Jewish and call it the Spr Bwl from now on.

Here's the deal... "mass out-of-home viewing" is bad for the NFL's Nielsen ratings. So, this year, what with a freeway Spr Bwl (Indy & Chi-town are about 200 miles apart) and nothing better to do, they decided to go after churches who were hosting Spr Bwl parties. If you want to read the whole story, you can check out the February 1st & February 2nd articles at Baptist Press.

I'll try & sum it up... the NFL prohibits (or at least chooses now to prohibit):
  • showing the Spr Bwl to a large group on a screen larger than 55 inches
  • charging admission to see the Spr Bwl
  • showing the Spr Bwl at events that "promote a message"
  • showing the Spr Bwl on multiple TV's
  • using the Spr Bwl name to promote an event

Some of you are thinking... "Hey, wait a minute. I can load up in my SUV, burn a tankful of gas & go down to my local sports bar, who will require me to purchase X number of drinks and/or food while showing me the game on a screen roughly the size of Rhode Island. And if I'm sitting with my back to the big screen, there's about 50 smaller TV's perched on stands around the room. Is the enforcement of the NFL's copyright going to close down my only source for peanuts, beer & drunken hooting about how screwed up the replay system is?"

No, my friend, thanks to the NFL's selective enforcement policy, you can still go out & get plastered while watching the Spr Bwl telecast. You just can't do it at a church.

Bitter? Me? Nah. I'm just stunned at how incredibly tone deaf the NFL is being... if they're so freaked out about Nielsen ratings, then sports bars & restaurants are a bigger problem than churches.

My two cents? I think this about beating up on an institution that can't easily fight back. I think it's about being penny wise & pound foolish. I think it's about doing something that that they have every legal right to do... but many reasons not to do it. I think it's about selective enforcement of their copyright, which is probably going to end up costing them more in goodwill than they realize.

With all of that... this isn't a federal case. This isn't persecution - it's just dumb. Holding a Spr Bwl party to "challenge the injustice" isn't civil disobedience, it's grandstanding. Go home, go watch the Spr Bwl with some friends, talk about Jesus if you want to. The NFL can't take that away from you.


Anonymous said...

" can still go out & get plastered while watching the Spr Bwl telecast. You just can't do it at a church."

You get plastered at church? ;-]

Just kidding. I agree with you. The NFL's decision to pursue this seems to go beyond merely myopic and short sighted to dangerously close to being a Political Statement. Which is just silly. Especially coming from the NFL.

So who are you rooting for today?


Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Leave it to you, my friend, to find the glaring rhetorical hole in my argument.

Of course, this would be a completely different question if we were Catholic, right? (Just ask Veltri!)

I'm sorta pulling for the Colts, but I won't sad if either team wins. I like both of the coaches a lot.

Anonymous said...

In 1985-86 I was in Santa Barbara going to the UC and to St. Michael's Episcopal. In December, I joined the priest and some members of the church at a "National Gathering" in Estes Park, CO, of college Episcopals and their associated somewhat more responsible adults. On New Year's Eve, we had a mass, and I watched my watch. At midnight, we were at the Sanctus ("Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty")--very nice timing.

And then afterwards there was a party in the big hall. There were ten long tables all in a row, five with soda, and five with beer and champagne. I thought, "Hot damn! This is the church for me." Not only did we all get plastered, but I actually learned to square dance and we danced until four. I'm grinning from ear to ear thinking about it now.

(Plus I had a great time with a woman named Kathleen. No, not THAT great a time. But I thought I'd mention it to see if the name gives anyone hives.)

All of which is to say: the Catholics aren't the only ones who know how to party.