It’s the Souper Bowl, not Super Bowl

Published 9:36 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

I get it. I understand why churches feel the need to host Super Bowl parties. If they didn’t, church attendance would be about nine yards short of a first down.

But the NFL doesn’t make it easy for a church, or business, to host one of these get-togethers. For starters, groups are advised not to use the words “Super Bowl” to describe their events.

Those words are copyrighted, and the league fiercely protects its words and logos. Business owners also can’t use the Super Bowl logo or use the words “Super Bowl” or “Super Sunday” in ads.

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They also can’t use “National Football League,” “American Football Conference,” “National Football Conference” or any team names.

The NFL doesn’t want anyone profiting off their business, and that includes churches.

So, churches will instead host “Souper Bowl” parties or “Big Game” gatherings. Businesses will promote events using similar clunky descriptions.

It leaves football fans with the impression that the NFL is an up-tight, greedy enterprise. And that’s because it is. Money is the only thing that matters in the NFL. It’s not about the sport, the camaraderie or any of the other high virtues the league claims to promote. It’s only money.

And if a bar somewhere in Mississippi wants to attract patrons to a party using the words “Super Bowl,” then the NFL wants a cut. The same goes for churches if they charge admission, I guess.

A free church party might skirt copyright laws. There’s even a website to help them do that.

The website Christian Copyright  Solutions offers a few tips, like: churches must show the game on the same equipment  they use in the course of ministry. That means they can’t bring in a big screen just for the big game. The party also has to be at the church, it can’t be at a rented party space.

Churches can’t charge admission but they can take up donations to help cover costs of the party. They are also advised to avoid using the copyright-protected terms the NFL owns.

I wonder how many churches will follow these rules? How many even know these rules exist?

Is there really any harm in letting churches — or businesses — host actual Super Bowl parties that are called “Super Bowl” parties. I don’t think so.

It’s not like the NFL loses revenue if people watch the game at a bar, or church, or some other location besides a home. They are still watching the ads, no matter where the TV is, and that revenue is what really matters to the league.

The NFL’s overzealous defense of their copyright-protected words only makes people hate the league more. After the botched no-call on the Rams it’s hard to believe that’s possible, but it is.

If the NFL keeps finding ways to turn off fans, it may find that its ratings start looking more like church services the night of the Super Bowl, I mean Souper Bowl.

Email publisher Luke Horton at