Acton Institute Powerblog

The NFL on PCA (or ELCA, or CRC…)

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Among the critical issues at the confluence of religion, culture, and economics is the question of TV screen size. In a move hailed by gospel-focused churches everywhere, the NFL has modified its rules, which had previously prohibited churches from sponsoring showings of the Super Bowl on screens larger than 55 inches. Church interests had argued that there was no such restriction on, for example, sports bars. One is tempted to conclude that there will no longer be any noticeable difference between churches and sports bars.

Sarcasm aside, I’m sure someone out there will argue that the church can have a positive influence by holding Super Bowl parties in a Christian context. Maybe. It’s no doubt a function of my traditional Catholic bent, but I can see no way in which the prospect of viewing the Super Bowl in a church is appealing, and a number of ways it is not. Have your party at home, and keep it Christian-like.

As for the fact that Senators Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter had taken up the problem in the chambers of Congress, well, what is left to say about such things?

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of


  • From the NFL’s perspective, I never understood why the rule was there in the first place. Does the NFL get revenue from bars that show the game somehow? Maybe there’s pressure from beer advertisers to keep churches from showing the game?

    But I understand even less why Congress keeps insinuating itself into issues like this, especially the steroids scandal and everything else associated with professional sports.

    An anti-trust exemption shouldn’t provide the government with self-determined and undefined, limitless oversight, anymore than tax exemption for churches should open them up to all kinds of government scrutiny.

    Maybe Arlen Specter was a nerd in high school whose jock dreams were never realized, and now he’s taking his nerd’s revenge. Call it “jock envy.”