God and the Super Bowl

SuperBowl2Every year about this time I can’t help but ask myself the following question:

What does God think about the Super Bowl?

Since “Super Bowl” doesn’t appear in my Bible index, each Super Bowl Eve I search Google using the phrase “God and the Super Bowl.” The results are always fascinating. This year, in 0.68 seconds I got 3.02 million items to choose from. Here’s a mere sampling …

Super $$$? Some facts & figures:

  • 167 million people watched all or part of last year’s game, making it the most-watched event in TV history.
  • A 30-second ad costs a whopping $5 million or $166,666 a second.
  • The ratio of commercial-to-actual-football time is nearly 5 to 1.
  • Each member of the winning team gets $107,000. The losers get $53,000.
  • The average ticket price is $4,900. You can get a ticket near the 50-yard line on ebay for a mere $13,100.
  • Fans are expected to spend $14.1 billion on Super Bowl-related purchases, including more than 3 billion pounds of popcorn, 11 million pounds of potato chips and 1 billion chicken wings (washed down by more than 300 million gallons of beer).
  • Here are a few other facts & figures that might just make you want to spend your $$$ a little differently.

Does God Pick the Winner in Advance? This was the very first article that popped up in my search, which cites a survey indicating that 25% of Americans believe that God has already picked the winner and 49% believe that God rewards believing athletes with better on-field performance. So, is picking the winner a matter of simply adding up which team has the most/best Christians? Another article offered this take:

We quickly devolve into silliness when forced to imagine God wearing a particular jersey … or that he is somehow predisposed toward one major institution or another at the conclusion of March Madness. Yet even if God operated in this cartoonish way, even if we could put all the “righteous” on one team or another, God has a history of allowing his people to lose on the field so they can somehow win in the deeper, soul-centered arenas of life.

Puppy Predictions. Watch this for a highly scientific prognostication and an overdose of adorableness.

God the Underdog? You can now wager on virtually anything remotely related to the game, all the way from whether Luke Bryan will wear a hat while singing the national anthem to the color of Lady Gaga’s hair during the halftime show to whom the MVP will thank first in his post-game interview. As for the latter, sadly, God is running a distant second, behind “teammates” and slightly ahead of “nobody” at the moment.

Top God-Thankers? Speaking of thanking God, this article ranks the top 12 “God Thankers” of all time. The list includes such notables as Drew Brees, Reggie White and, of course, Tim Tebow.

Is It OK to Pray for Your Team to Win? 13% of Americans say that they’ve prayed for their favorite sports team to win. If millions of Falcons fans pray for the Falcons to win and the Patriots stomp them, does that mean that God doesn’t answer prayers (or that he’s a Patriots fan)? Uhh … no. As this author points out, God isn’t a “cosmic vending machine.”

How Do YOU Super Bowl? Here’s an article from the folks at Desiring God on how to avoid getting too much bad stuff in your brain while watching the game.

Super Sunday School?  Here’s a Pinterest page devoted to Super Bowl-themed Sunday School ideas. Or check out Sunday School Super Bowl, a game in which kids answer Bible trivia questions for a chance to get into the eternal end zone. There are Super Bowl-based Bible studies for adults, too — here‘s one written by Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy that asks “What’s your game plan?”

(Sources: Christianity Today; Forbes; The Guardian; Kantar Media; Nielsen; National Retail Federation; Public Religion Research Foundation; PRRI; The Sporting News)

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