“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 2 (The Message)
Much More Than a Football Game!
Super Bowl, the highlight of every February, draws mind-blowing audience numbers. This isn’t just a football game… it’s a cultural event!
“Super Bowl, in U.S. professional gridiron football, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), played by the winners of the league’s American Football Conference and National Football Conference each January or February. The game is hosted by a different city each year. The day of the Super Bowl game, known as Super Bowl Sunday, has evolved into an unofficial American holiday, with viewing parties held in homes, taverns, and restaurants throughout the country. The week prior to the game is highlighted by extensive media buildup and a festival atmosphere in the host city. The game itself is accompanied by elaborate pregame and halftime ceremonies and entertainment.” (www.britannica.com/sports/Super-Bowl)
Here are important facts about the impact of this American phenomenon:
• There has been a Super Bowl every year since the event began in 1967.
• This year the game drew about 113 million viewers across TV (Fox and Fox Deportes) and streaming media, the highest audience for the Super Bowl since 2017.
• A record 50.4 million American adults (20%) bet on Super Bowl LVII, a 61 percent increase from the record set in 2022, according to a new American Gaming Association (AGA) survey. Bettors wagered an estimated $16 billion on this year’s championship game, more than double last year’s estimates. (www.americangaming.org)
• Super Bowl games and festivities go hand-in-hand with fast food like chicken wings and Pizza, making it the second-highest food consumption date following Thanksgiving.
• “Americans are expected to consume more than 300 million gallons of beer, 28 million pounds of chips, and 1.42 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl, according to World Food Program USA.” (“16 Fun Facts and Stats About the Super Bowl’s Impact in Phoenix”, http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news)
• According to the National Restaurant Association, pizza restaurants love Super Bowl Sunday – it’s their busiest day of the year, selling twice as many pies as any other day.
• About 2 million cases of beer are sold every year for Super Bowl weekend – which might explain why 6% of Americans call in sick for work the following Monday.
• “The average cost of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl this year is $7 million, up $500,000 from last year and the highest ever, according to Betway. That’s about the cost for two highly anticipated beer commercials this year, and it’s money well spent, said Michelob Ultra and Bud Light spokesperson John Heid. One in five Americans who tunes in for the Super Bowl is most excited about the commercials.” (“16 Fun Facts and Stats About the Super Bowl’s Impact in Phoenix”, www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news)
• “According to Nielsen IQ, beer accounts for the lion’s share of Super Bowl sales, $1.2 billion compared to $517 million for soft drinks and $226 million for whiskey, the next two closest beverages.” (www.forbes.com)
• Of the 32 most-watched TV programs in U.S. history, 30 of them are Super Bowls.
• The Super Bowl is broadcast in over 180 countries in more than 30 languages – and is the most watched television broadcast in the US every year.
• The Super Bowl winners get $83,000 each, and the losers get $42,000 each.
• “The NFL contributes from $5,000 to $7,000 per ring for up to 150 rings per team, with any additional costs being borne by the team. The final cost usually comes in at between$30k and $50k per ring.” (www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports)
• NFL games routinely dominate weekly national television ratings during the regular season. And the league recently signed TV rights contracts with Fox, Disney, CBS, NBC, and Amazon worth over a $100 billion over the next decade, more than the GDP of a lot of countries.
These are startling statistics! Americans are obsessed with football, and especially the Super Bowl. Even those who don’t care about football are inclined to watch this event. What specifically draws people, not just in the US, but around the world? The weeks-long media hype prior to the game instills almost a sense of patriotism regarding this occasion. It’s understood that this is part of our culture and shouldn’t be missed.
And then, there’s the halftime show.
“These days, the halftime show is one of the most exciting performances of the year… For the artists who play the halftime show at the Super Bowl, they’re entertaining an audience that is exponentially bigger than any they’ve ever encountered.” (www.cbssports.com/nfl/news)
This year Rihanna performed along with 200 marshmallow-looking characters, all in perfect synchronicity. Aside from the audio-visual spectacle, the content of the performance portrayed sexualized behaviors many parents would prefer to keep shielded from their children, a problem for an event that is considered family-friendly.
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Certainly, teens are impacted by the media splash regarding the Super Bowl. Most watch the game, as this is definitely part of our culture. It’s important to discuss the hoopla, the commercials, the halftime show, and the influence on not only the US audience, but the world’s TV audience. Use these discussion starters to have conversations about this media-driven sensationalism.
• Ask, “Why do you think the annual Super Bowl is so popular and even watched by many who don’t care about football?”
• Share, “The game drew an average of 113 million viewers.” Ask, “Did you watch this year’s game? What are your thoughts about it?”
• Ask, “In your opinion, what is the most compelling part of the Super Bowl?”
• Share, “Of the 32 most-watched TV programs in U.S. history, 30 of them are Super Bowls.” Ask, “Why is this important?”
• Share, “The average cost of 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl this year was $7 million. This does not include the cost of creating the commercials.” Discuss reasons why corporations and organizations are willing to pay this much money.
• Share, “The league recently signed TV rights contracts with Fox, Disney, CBS, NBC, and Amazon worth over a $100 billion over the next decade, more than the GDP of a lot of countries.” Ask, “How is football tied to the US economy?”
• Discuss the impact of the Super Bowl and the impressions people around the world might have about America based on watching this game.
• Given that the Super Bowl and all that surrounds it is culturally iconic, ask, “Are there any implications for Christians and the church, and if so, what are they?”
• Share and discuss these scriptures and how they might relate to the Super Bowl frenzy.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a lesson for youth group gatherings.
Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
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