As Robert King of the Indianapolis Star first reported on Feb. 1: “NFL officials spotted a promotion of [Fall Creek Baptist Church’s] ‘Super Bowl Bash’ on the church Web site last week and sent pastor John D. Newland a letter — via FedEx overnight — demanding the party be canceled.” (As of this writing, this piece had sparked 466 passionate comments — about 90% of them upset with the NFL.)
Initially, the NFL objected to the church’s use of the words ‘Super Bowl’ in promoting the party, and for charging a fee (which the church intended to use to pay for snacks). But after Pastor Newland told the NFL he would drop the fee and the use of ‘Super Bowl,’ the NFL then objected to the church’s plans to show the game on a screen bigger than 55 inches — another copyright issue.
“‘For us to have all our congregation huddled around a TV that is big enough only for 10 or 12 people to watch just makes little sense,’ [said Newland]…. [He] said his church won’t break the law. But he sees a double standard at work when sports bars with giant screens can charge barstool rental fees and sell food, but his church can’t offer a free event for families.
‘It just frustrates me that most of the places where crowds are going to gather to watch this game are going to be places that are filled with alcohol and other things that are inappropriate for children,’ Newland said. ‘We tried to provide an alternative to that and were shut down.'”
But as Newsday reports, some churches may be willing to test the NFL’s enforcement threats:
“Freeport’s Zion Cathedral Church of God [in New York] was planning an annual gathering for dinner, religious teaching and the Super Bowl projected on two 10-foot-by-10-foot screens. Told yesterday by Newsday that the event could be illegal, the church’s pastor, Bishop Frank White, said it would continue as planned. ‘This is a church,’ he said. ‘I’m redeeming drug addicts. I’m trying to teach men fatherhood. This really disturbs me greatly.'”
Letters to the Editor, Indianapolis Star, Feb. 4, 2007:
“The NFL’s sudden crackdown on churches’ copyright-infringing Super Bowl parties is outrageous (‘Sorry, churches, the party’s over,’ Feb. 2).
I still fail to understand how a group gathering to watch the game on a TV that has a screen larger than 55 inches is infringing on the NFL’s copyright and how the NFL is being harmed. Yet it is OK to do the same thing in a bar or other similar establishment. Do you think advertising dollars from the major breweries have anything to do with that policy?
But with that said, I’m disappointed in the churches’ reaction to the NFL’s threats. There was a time when churches were at the forefront of social action and civil disobedience. Apparently, that’s not the case anymore. Despite the public outcry over the NFL’s policy, churches are ready and willing to just roll over and give in. It’s outrageous that we allow big business to rule our lives for no apparent justifiable reason, yet when confronted we just sit back and meekly submit. – Lowell K. Heusel, Indianapolis”
NFL Party Rules
For groups that want to host Super Bowl parties — other than sports bars and businesses that normally show televised sports — here are rules the NFL says must be followed:
– No admission fees (even to pay for snacks).
– Only one television (55 inches or smaller).
– No use of the words “Super Bowl” in promotional materials.
– No exhibition of the game in connection with events “that promote a message.”
Is My Super Bowl Party Illegal?
Slate – Feb. 2
NFL cracks down on churches’ Sunday parties
Associated Press – Feb. 2
1) Write or call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and demand that the NFL stop bullying consumers and threatening organizations who want to show the Super Bowl.
National Football League
280 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
tel: (212) 450-2000
2) Ask your Congressional Representative to take action against the NFL’s unreasonable Super Bowl copyright rules.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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