Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Twas the Night before Superbowl Sunday

Good sportsmen now rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say
News! News!
Superbowl is on today!
Busch and Block before it bow;
Apple, Coke--come see them now--
Commercials deck this golden cow.
Superbowl today!
Superbowl today!

Here we come a-chugging
Before the TV Screen!
Here we come a-swigging--
our Superbowl routine.
Couch and cash come to you
And to you an ice cold Bud too,
And Noll bless you, and send you
A winning team this year,
And Noll send you a winning team this year.

The High Holy Days are about to reach their climax. Tonight is Superbowl Eve, and tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday. Years ago, Joseph L. Price nailed it in this article for The Christian Century. "The Super Bowl as a Religious Festival."

The Superbowl is the ultimate holiday of Civic Religion. It is the one occasion that unites people of all ages, incomes, persuasions. However, it seems to be particularly sacred to males:

According to a new Coors Light survey of more than 2,500 adult male football fans, preparing for Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most important priorities of the year. Survey results show that a large percentage (44 percent) of men put more time and energy into making Super Bowl plans than making Valentine's Day plans. The survey also shows that more than 30 percent of survey respondents would rather see their favorite team win the Super Bowl than win a date with a supermodel, win a year's supply of beer or win their fantasy football league for three years in a row. link

Savvy evangelicals have co-opted it for their own ends, by hosting Superbowl parties. Yahoo will even tell you how to do it. Of course, the NFL magisterium is wary of such subversions and will flex its muscle to maintain orthodoxy. As Bruce Forbes and David Mahan point out, it is ironic that many evangelicals--"heirs of those who stripped bare their churches"--have eschewed visual representation in their sanctuaries, while simultaneously they have become "the most sophisticated practitioners of electronic technology." Now those electronic images have been granted "a power greater than that of medieval liturgical icons."

Among the many rituals associated with the day is the Drinking of the Beer:

The survey also revealed that the winner of the game isn't the only thing on men's minds - beer is also a top priority on Super Bowl Sunday. While roughly 35 percent of those surveyed said their male friends are the ideal Super Bowl companions, 24 percent said all they need is an ice cold beer, preferably at a temperature as cold as the Rocky Mountains (45 percent). link

One of the rituals of Superbowl Sunday that Price fails to explore is the Viewing of the Commercials. Of course, in keeping with the spirit of the Day, certain commercials are taboo. Others that reinforce the values of the Game are welcomed. They involve immense sacrifice on the part of the advertisers, and the more they amuse us the greater their power.

Yes, for some of us these are sacred days; but for others of us, they mark the Abomination of Desolation. Guess which group I fall into?

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