Why is the Super Bowl such a big deal?

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Why is the Super Bowl such a big deal?

January 30, 2015 -

Sunday’s Super Bowl will likely be the most-watched show in the history of television.   Why?

For some, it’s the ads.  A 30-second commercial will cost $4.5 million, more than ever before.  Many of us remember the ads more than the game.  For instance, one advertising executive ranked “Mean Joe” Greene drinking a boy’s Coca-Cola as his all-time favorite.  You probably remember the 1979 ad, but did you remember that the Steelers won that year’s game?

For others, it’s the parties.  Pinterest is full of Super Bowl party recipes and suggestions.  Super Bowl menus abound on the Internet.  Not everyone does their own cooking, however.  After a thief in Florida stole $4,000 worth of chicken, ribs, fries and wings, the local sheriff’s Facebook post stated, “This guy may be getting ready to throw a Super Bowl Party! – Suspect Sought – Please Share!”

For others, it’s the glitz and spectacle, from the half-time show to the non-stop weekend-long media coverage.  The glamour of the game begins with its name.  Why is it called the “Super Bowl”? (Tweet this) Because some children were playing with a Super Ball toy.  Their father owned a pro football team and coined “Super Bowl” in 1966 to refer to the proposed game, later attributing the name to his kids’ toy.  (A vintage example of the ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

For sports fans, it’s the finality.  Unless the World Series, NBA Finals, or Stanley Cup Finals go to a game seven, there’s always another game that could be played to decide the champion.  Tennis players are competing now in the Australian Open, but the French Open is coming soon.  Golfers will play the Masters in April, but the U.S. Open follows two months later.  But for pro football, this is it.  Sixty minutes will decide the winner of a season that began seven months ago.  It’s exciting to watch a single game that means so much.

Marshall McLuhan noted that “the medium is the message.”  His now-famous phrase means that the medium by which a message is conveyed influences how that message is understood and in fact becomes its own message.  If the medium of the Super Bowl is televised entertainment, what is the message?

Here’s my answer: we were made for enjoyment.  We crave excitement and fun.  From the unspoiled beauty of the Garden of Eden to the spectacle of Sunday’s game, we are drawn to joy.  Of course, the game will end Sunday night and the “real world” will impose itself Monday morning.

The good news is that a more enduring, satisfying source of joy is available to us every moment of every day.  Robert Murray McCheyne was right: “The purest joy in the world is joy in Christ Jesus.” (Tweet this) When he is our King, his Spirit can manifest his “fruit”: “Love, joy, peace . . .” (Galatians 5:22).  Then we can say, “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (see Nehemiah 8:10).

C. S. Lewis observed, “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”  Enjoy Sunday’s game, but find joy in Monday’s Lord.

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