By Aaron Earls
Most church Super Bowl parties are perfectly legal, but a few regulations could cause the NFL to throw a penalty flag on a congregation.
A few years ago, Super Bowl parties appeared to be in jeopardy. Many churches canceled their plans after the NFL began legally objecting to virtually all public showings, including those hosted by religious organizations.
In 2007, Fall Creek Baptist Church received a letter from the NFL informing them their planned Super Bowl party violated copyright laws.
The league objected to the church showing the game on a giant screen. As news spread, other churches began to cancel their events.
After substantial backlash, however, the NFL amended their rules to allow churches to show the Super Bowl regardless of screen size.
Despite the change, other regulations remain in place. Make sure your church follows these four guidelines.
1. Don’t charge admission.
Churches cannot charge for people to watch the game, but donations can be accepted to offset costs of food and other items.
Using the event to collect canned goods for a local food pantry and similar charity-driven promotions are also allowed.
2. Location matters.
A church is free to show the game in “its usual place of worship” but can’t rent a different facility like an auditorium or theater specifically to watch the game.
But those allowances are only “with respect to the church property (not rented spaces),” according to an NFL representative who spoke with Christian Copyright Solutions.
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 that rented space.
3. Know the rules about names and logos.
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 any copyrighted logo, including the NFL Shield, the Super Bowl logo, or team logos.
4. DVRs are OK.
While the NFL prohibits rebroadcasting of its games, but churches can use a digital video recorder to watch the game from the beginning in its entirety if Sunday evening services run past kickoff.
A 2017 LifeWay Research study found 3 in 5 churches that have Sunday night activities will continue as normal despite the Super Bowl.
For more, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance sums up Super Bowl regulations and provides additional information on church-related copyright laws.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.