It’s become sort of a “thing” to attend Super Bowl parties at churches – I’ve never done it and because of the NFL’s decision, I guess I never will.
The thousands of churches across the country that want to host Super Bowl parties Sunday night had better not pull out big-screen TVs, or they could face the wrath of NFL attorneys.
The NFL is telling Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis that the church’s plans to use a wall projector to show the game at a party for church members and guests would violate copyright laws.
NFL officials spotted a promotion of Fall Creek’s “Super Bowl Bash” on the church Web site last week and sent pastor John D. Newland a letter — via FedEx overnight — demanding the party be canceled.
Initially, the league objected to the church’s plan to charge partygoers a fee to attend and that the church used the license-protected words “Super Bowl” in its promotions.
Newland told the NFL his church would not charge partygoers — the fee had been intended only to pay for snacks — and that it would drop the use of the forbidden words.
But the NFL wouldn’t bite. It objected to the church’s plans to use a projector to show the game on what effectively was a 12-foot-wide screen. It said the law limits the church to one TV no bigger than 55 inches.
The league even took exception to the church’s plan to influence nonmembers with a video highlighting the Christian testimonies of Colts coach Tony Dungy and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith.
The message on Falls Creek Baptist Church website:
Fall Creek Baptist Church Family…
We regret to inform you that we have had to cancel our bash to view the Colts game this Sunday in a family friendly environment due to the fact that the NFL believes we would be in violation of the Copyright Act, because we had planned to show the game on a screen bigger than a 55 inch diagonal. We have appealed to their legal counsel and exhausted all options without success. We have been informed that the only exceptions to view the game are given to sports bars and restaurants. While we have argued that we only intend to provide a family oriented environment that will make no profit from the showing, the NFL claims that our event cannot proceed by law. Therefore, we have no choice but to challenge this in court or cancel the event. We choose to cancel the event. We deeply regret that we have been prohibited by the NFL from providing a family friendly environment for celebrating the Colts great season.