Is your church's Super Bowl party legal?

by Will Hall, |
The Super Bowl logo sits outside the Phoenix Convention Center, January 27, 2015, in preparation for Super Bowl XLIX at US Airways Center in Arizona. | REUTERS/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX (Christian Examiner) – In 2007, the National Football League caused a panic and a tsunami of public outcry when it refused to allow Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis to show Super Bowl XLI at its campus as part of a fellowship for its members and an outreach to the community.

The NFL objected to the church's proposed use of big screens, NFL artwork and the plan to collect $3 per person in order to offset costs of snacks for visitors. The rules, they said were in place to discourage individuals from profiting off the NFL's brand and to help promote home viewership which pumps up Nielsen ratings used to sell commercials.

After a public dustup and a political threat the following year to amend the copyright protections the sports giant was enforcing, the NFL relented to permit churches to host Super Bowl parties as long as they complied with a few guidelines.

Brotherhood Mutual, an insurance provider for churches and related ministries, describes compliance as easy as following a couple of basic rules.

  1. Do not rent any gear for the showing – churches must use the same equipment used in the course of ministry on the premises.
  2. Churches may not use rented space for the event, even if that is the norm for the congregation's regular services.
  3. The broadcast must be shown live; however, it cannot be streamed on the Internet. Churches may not record the game.
  4. Churches cannot charge admission for the party. However, the NFL does permit donations to defray the cost of the event.
  5. Churches may refer to the "NFL," "Super Bowl" and team names in promoting these events, but may not use official graphics such as the NFL Shield, Super Bowl logo or team designs.