This Sunday evening, millions of people around the country will gather in person, at their radios, or huddle around television sets, while many others around the world will look on in bemusement as America partakes in its largest worship service of the year: the Super Bowl. This will of course be followed up a short time later by the world’s largest worship service: the Olympics. While many a fundamentalist will decry the Super Bowl, my contention is that the Super Bowl is a vital aspect to life in America, bringing to light a state of the human condition which many seemingly are oblivious to, or refuse to acknowledge.
Man was made for community. We have cliche expressions such as: “No man is an island”, or “Man does not live in a bubble.” The Bible discusses the idea that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2). There is an innate sense in man to connect with others. One of the most important aspects of the Super Bowl is the ability for people to connect in that context. It provides complete strangers the chance to strike up a conversation on a topic which both parties are bound to have at least a mild interest. There is the friendly sense of competition when people wear the opposing teams’ colors and see each other in passing. And then, in one particular city each year, for one night a stadium becomes the country’s largest mega-church, hosting the big game itself.
At this point, the question will probably arise that sounds something like this: “Why don’t people realize that the Church can fulfill this need for community which people so clearly desire?” It can’t. If the Church would be honest with itself, there is no feasible way for It to be able to maintain (if it could cultivate) this level of communal connectivity. The Church is made up of humans with their flaws and imperfections. What the Super Bowl has going for it is that it is only a one-weekend event; even the people who do not support either team will still watch for the commercials. And if the Church were more like a Super Bowl atmosphere, would we really see people wearing the colors of the opposing sides? Until Jesus returns (whatever that looks like), Man couldn’t sustain a united effort like that if it tried.
Let us embrace the Super Bowl for what it is: the opportunity for America to come together to celebrate and enjoy life together. In the Super Bowl, what we should not see is a blatant example of American decadence and idolatry, but the desire for human-to-human connection in a setting that at least for a short time can actually accomplish it.