August 4, 2020

Super Bowl Week on Internet Monk

Since it is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have the Super Bowl in the town where I live, I thought we’d give some time to the subject this week, along with reflections on sports in American culture and their relationship to faith and practice.

Right now, after spending most of the weekend downtown, I confess I’m too tired to do much reflecting. So I’ll just post a few pictures today from the Super Bowl Village. Downtown Indianapolis has been transformed, and the crowds filled the streets and convention center today. We were right there with them, bumping into our fellow football pilgrims and spending money at every turn.

We had a great time, though, and I’m more convinced than ever that American football is our true religion here in the U.S.

SB Graphics on JW Marriott Hotel

Giant Super Bowl Numbers on Monument Circle

Crowds Entering the Super Bowl Village

Zip Line on Capitol Street

Super Bowl Numbers at Night


  1. Some good ol’ fashioned footbolatry. Reminds me of a clever video on the subject I came across once… which should be fun to show at church next Sunday.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I figured that one out my second year in high school. Nothing like being your high school’s Omega Male to be able to see it.

  2. I have been a “football widow” since the pre-season games, and can’t wait for the superbowl so that it will all be OVER for another year. Yesterday, we read by the fire without the darned TV on for a game.

    And now I get football HERE? What did I say or do to deserve this punishment??????


  3. Wow, a zip line right in the city. Cool!

  4. I love football (although I prefer college football), but the hype is too much for me. The pictures are interesting, but there is a sense of idolatry, almost like art and buildings we would see in ancient Rome.

  5. I’m going to try to squeeze in a link, too. Even though this football is soccer, the point’s the same.

  6. Hmm. Football is our “true religion” in the US. Is it weird that my thought is, “better football than Christianity?” Because to be honest, I’d be uncomfortable and a bit suspicious if Indianapolis or any city in the US was putting up big crosses, had a “Jesus Village” instead of a Super Bowl village, etc.

    Maybe I shouldn’t say that I would be uncomfortable with Christianity as America’s true religion, as much as America’s official religion.

  7. Dan Crawford says

    Do you think Joel Osteen will do the invocation for the half-time show?

  8. The Previous Dan says

    I was a huge fan as a young man. Sometime after marriage I got busy with other things and gradually lost interest. Now, except for the occasional playoff game and the Superbowl I don’t follow it.

    Looking back (and now in from the outside) I wonder about the whole phenomenon. Why should people be happy when their preferred team wins and sad when they lose? Why spend all that money? Dressing up and even painting themselves? Get in fights and doing physical violence to opposing fans? Really??

    What is up with this insanity? Are our lives really so empty that we are that desperate to belong to a group or something bigger than ourselves life? I’m not ridiculing anyone, these are honest questions.

    • The Previous Dan says

      Oops. A couple of typos in there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      What is up with this insanity? Are our lives really so empty that we are that desperate to belong to a group or something bigger than ourselves life?

      “I Was a Football Star in High School. Once I Scored THREE TOUCHDOWNS IN ONE GAME!”
      — Al Bundy, Married With Children (I bet HE watches the Super Bowl…)

      And at least it’s something other than Politics Politics Politics Politics Politics.

      • The Previous Dan says

        Energy, money, etc. spent on politics has a direct impact in my life and even my family’s future. Football may have some economic impact on cities with teams, but for most of us it makes no REAL difference at all. It is just a feel-good thing that some are willing to beat others to death over. I guess it really is a religion!

      • Richard Hershberger says

        Football is the great American equalizer. If I find myself at an upscale dinner party or standing at a street corner in a not-so-good part of town waiting for a bus, I can talk football with the guy next to me. Thanksgiving with relatives you rarely see, and for good reason? Watch football. A discussion about clock management can do wonders to avoid political discussions.

        That being said, I think of the Super Bowl as the sign that pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon. I have heard rumors that there are other sports played as well, but I’m not convinced.

        • Sports was probably the #1 way I bonded with my father during my teenage years. It was the one thing we both had in common. Well, I mean other than DNA and a shared history.

          It really does have its purposes.

          • The Previous Dan says

            I don’t deny that sports have their place in society. When I have time, I do enjoy watching a good football game. The strategy, skill, marriage of brain and brawn, is a thing of beauty. That goes for boxing, hockey, soccer, etc. And I acknowledge their value to both participants and spectators.

            But what causes us to cross over into the “mania.” When it ceases to be a recreation that brings us together and becomes something so closely identified with ourselves that it obsesses and divides us? I think, for many, it is substituting for the desire to belong to God’s great cause. Am I going too far with that statement? Do you think that is hyperbole?

  9. I love football. I love the Pats and I enjoy watching the Super Bowl, but there is so much about Super Bowl week that I find annoying.

    I just want to watch the game and maybe an hour long pregame show.

    Instead what I am treated to during the Super Bowl is so much other stuff. I don’t want extra long half time with Madonna. I am really not that interested in the commercials. I am not interested in the human interest stories. I am not interested in whether Tom Brady is considered the best quarterback all time or whether Eli Manning is in fact an elite quarterback and better than his brother. So much of the game seems about trying to get people who don’t like football to watch the game.

    I guess there are some analogies to the whole seeker sensitive movement in how we insert all of these bells and whistles into worship.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I don’t want extra long half time with Madonna.

      Even with the pre-planned Spontaneous Wardrobe Malfuncton?

      Well, Animal Planet usually runs “The Puppy Bowl” opposite The Big Game That Must Not Be Named, so you can watch puppies romping around instead.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I have largely learned the trick of tuning out the surrounding hype. This still leaves the challenge of finding out what the actual kickoff time is, since the media treats this as a secret. I don’t mind the halftime, since I can go do other stuff while it is on in the background. The key to all of this is that hype is a product being offered. That doesn’t mean we need to buy it.

    • One of the more humorous things I’ve seen is that mythtv (an open source pvr) has a filter (normally used for commercial removal) for blocking out everything except the commercials. Some people really do get into the super commercials!

  10. If you ask [Christians] who is Amos or Obadiah, how many apostles there were or prophets, they stand mute; but if you ask them about the horses or drivers, they answer with more solemnity than sophists or rhetors.
    –John Chrysostom.

    (Or quarterbacks and their statistics.)

  11. Matt Purdum says

    If just one percent of the money, energy, and brainpower spent on sports in America were spent on making peace or alleviating hunger, what a wonderful world it would be.

    • I can imagine someone saying that football organizations and players give an extraordinary amount of money to worthy charitable causes and good works in their communities.

      • Matt Purdum says

        I wouldn’t call it extraordinary, Chaplain. It’s the kind of PR that keeps the activists from from demonstrating at the front office. And when you consider the injuries (especially career-ending ones), the cheerleaders, the drunks, the gambling, the gluttony, and football’s Theology of Glory, it’s not far from saying that porn shops and bordellos should be allowed to operate next to elementary schools provided they give something to a kids’ charity.

    • interesting conjecture. let’s see if this might be a possible scenario???

      the very thing you imagine has happened. the money counted & set aside. now the committee which will decide how such funds will be disbursed must be formed. no cries of ‘foul’ from the sidelines on the makeup of that powerful committee & who is represented on it? which faith tradition/expression/doctrinal stance is the predominant one???

      during the committee wranglings there would be no ‘scouting’ done by prospective peace/missionary/aid organizations? no lobbyists hoping to make an appeal on behalf of their team???

      no cheerleading section hoping to capture sufficient attention to warrant some of the funds for their team???

      no Tebowing by the one getting the lion’s share of the $$$ intended to further their altruistic philanthropy???

      no egos getting in the way? no greed motivating potential recipients? no rallying cries/PR campaigns championing better statistics of every dollar spent going to those that actually need it???

      money does funny things to people. i am sure the end result could be quantified as being a better result for addressing some known problems we as Christians should be sensitive to, but i think the impact on those having to be in charge of the money might bring out some very unChristlike behaviors no matter the end ‘goals’…

    • Randy Windborne says

      Assuming the NFL to be a $700 billion/year industry, one percent would be $7 billion. I suppose that would be sufficient to alleviate hunger worldwide for few minutes, but generally hunger results from some combination of war and despot tyrannical governments. I don’t think money would fix the underlying causes of hunger.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    How many shopping days left until Super Bowl Sunday?

  13. Hey, it must be important, look at all the comments above. I like certain teams, mostly from the midwesst, but I wouldn’t spend money on any of them. Much adeu about nothing.

  14. That’s ado and I have thick fingers.

  15. Mike!
    For once you are wrong.

    I have the word of Madalyn Murry O’Hair that baseball is the opiate of the masses!


    • I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Ms O’Hair. I’m honestly grateful that she kept prayer out of my public school! It didn’t keep me from finding a connexion with the Divine in my own way and own time.

      • The Previous Dan says

        Well, by most public accounts she didn’t have a very happy life. So I guess she could use that soft spot. God have mercy on her soul.

  16. I’d much rather play a game (football or Scrabble) than watch one.

  17. Just not the same without the black and gold (sniff)….. pulling for the Giants though….