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.”

Source: NFL


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.

Roger Goodell
National Football League
280 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017

tel: (212) 450-2000
fax: (212)-681-7599

2) Ask your Congressional Representative to take action against the NFL’s unreasonable Super Bowl copyright rules.


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