by Aaron Earls
Thanks to some clarification from the NFL, most church Super Bowl events are OK. But there are some guidelines of which churches need to be aware.
In 2007, Fall Creek Baptist Church received a letter from the NFL informing them their planned Super Bowl party violated copyright laws. The league, wanting more fans to watch at home and drive up ratings, objected to the church showing the game on a giant screen. As news spread, churches began to panic and cancel their events.
After substantial backlash, however, the NFL amended their rules to allow churches to show the Super Bowl regardless of screen size. Still other regulations remain in effect.
Viewers cannot be charged admission, although donations to help with food or other costs can be accepted.
“If a church holds their “viewing party” in its usual place of worship and does not charge a fee for attending such viewing party,” a league representative told Christian Copyright Solutions, “the NFL will not object when a church has a party for its congregants to watch the Super Bowl together.”
But those allowances are only “with respect to the church property (not rented spaces).” So even though a school building may be a church’s “usual place of worship,” the church is not permitted to show the game in a rented space.
Although the NFL famously protects use of the phrase “Super Bowl,” churches are free to refer to the game by name, mention the teams playing, and use “NFL” in their promotional materials. Churches cannot, however, use the NFL Shield, Super Bowl, or team logos.
And while the NFL does not permit the rebroadcasting of their games, churches can feel free to make a temporary digital recording of the game using a DVR system to enable the church to watch the game in its entirety if their services prevent them from starting their party at kickoff.
Brotherhood Mutual, an insurance provider for churches and related ministries, sums up the regulations for churches.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.