The Super Bowl, $$$, and the Kingdom of God
by Dale Reeves
This coming Sunday, February 7, the low temperature in Cincinnati is projected to be a chilly 19 degrees. At game time for Super Bowl LV, the expected temperature at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, is in the high 60s. There’s a lot riding on this game—in terms of bragging rights, and in terms of money. Hopefully, the weather won’t determine the outcome.
The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs are trying to make their quarterback Patrick Mahomes the youngest to win multiple Lombardi Trophies, at the age of twenty-five. On the other sideline, at the age of forty-three, Tom Brady is going for a record seven Super Bowl victories, as he steers the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this epic battle, being the first team to host the championship game in their home stadium. To read more about this battle between the G.O.A.T. and the Kid, check out my earlier blog here.
Money, Money, Money
This spectacle every February has become a midwinter break we all look forward to, even if you are not a football fan. It’s the unofficial winter holiday that bridges the gap between Groundhog Day and Presidents’ Day. The amount of money spent on this extravaganza every year is mind-blowing. For instance, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the average price of a ticket to the game this year is a whopping $14,110, a massive increase from the $5,511 average price last year—due to the pandemic only 25,000 fans will be allowed in person, with an additional 30,000 cutouts, in a stadium that normally would seat 65,890 fans.
According to the Sporting News, more than 180 million people in the United States tune into the Super Bowl via either traditional television or streaming services, making the all-important commercials in high demand. Companies know there’s no better time to reach a large audience than during the Super Bowl, and so they pay big money for them. This year, the average cost for a 30-second commercial is $5.5 million. The total number of commercials in a Super Bowl fluctuates from year to year, but it usually ends up somewhere in a range between 40 and 50 commercials. Feel free to do the math.
Depending on who you ask, or what site you check out, the most popular foods consumed during the Super Bowl are chicken wings, buffalo chicken dip, pizza, seven-layer dip, spinach artichoke dip, guacamole, potato skins, nachos, chili, giant subs, and pulled pork sandwiches. According to the National Retail Federation, the average viewer will spend $74.55 on food, beverages, and apparel, for a total of $13.9 billion nationwide.
Put a Ring on It
One of the huge ticket items that the two teams will be vying for is the coveted Super Bowl rings that are designed specifically for the winning team. This is a very special ring that the players and coaches will be able to wear the rest of their lives. There are some very interesting stories about all the ring designs from fifty-four years of Super Bowls—rings that have been lost and then found, the reason why the rings were designed the way they were, etc. If you’d like to check out some of those stories, click here.
Super Bowl I, which was won by the Green Bay Packers in 1966, featured a ring for the winning team that was designed by Packers coach Vince Lombardi and two of his team members. It contained a modest .5-carat diamond, which now pales in comparison to the 2018 New England Patriots’ 9.85 carat ring. The NFL traditionally covers the cost of roughly 150 rings for the championship team, which are awarded to players, coaches, executives, and others at the winning team’s discretion. Each set of Super Bowl rings is valued at roughly $5 million, though the team’s preferred design factors into the final cost. Additionally, owners often pay for more rings to be made depending on how many of them they want to distribute.
The Super Bowl is fun to watch, and I plan on viewing it this year. But it’s impossible to miss the disparity we see concerning the amount of money that is spent on one game every year compared to the amount of money that could be spent on seeking, finding, and sharing the “pearl of great price” that Jesus talked about—the kingdom of God.
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45, 46, NLT).
Is knowing Christ and leading others to him the most important treasure in your personal Super Bowl? It is in my world. As I reflected on that the other day, I penned the following poem:
Faithful Men Fight to Win
I’m in the Super Bowl, I’m striving for the goal.
It’s more than just a game to bring fortune and fame.
This conflict is for real, my future it will seal.
And who are my opponents? The Patriots, Rams, or Giants?
Pittsburgh or Miami, the Packers, KC, or Indy?
No, my fight’s with the evil one, the tempter who’s a roaring lion.
And where does this contest take place? In the blimp in outer space,
At the Georgia or Superdome, or Colosseum in Rome?
No, none of these, or even Lambeau; this battle’s on more than we know.
And, who is watching from the stands? Bradshaw, Romo, and Jim Nantz?
Boomer, Erin Andrews, or JB? Collinsworth or Dungy?
My crowd are faithful women and men who played and fought to win.
The Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame, where we find the faithful named;
Moses and Jacob, who’ve gone before; Abraham, Sarah, David, and more.
They fought a fight of faith and won; now they’re living with the Son.
The enemy’s attack is relentless, his plays and tricks are endless.
My foe knows what to do to beat me black and blue.
But I can win in the trenches by keeping up defenses.
My offense is a sword, the Word of God from the Lord.
The cross of Christ brought anguish to Satan when he was vanquished.
His Game Plan I must adhere to so that my enemy will be run through.
Someday the game will end when the ref shall descend.
The final gun will sound, the victor will be crowned.
It will happen in a breath, but for the loser—sudden death.
What’s It Worth?
After winning the NFC Championship in 2010, Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson told his teammates: “For two weeks, think about one. Let’s be one mind. Let’s be one heartbeat. One purpose. One goal. One more game.” That’s why the ring the Packers received after winning Super Bowl XLV has a number 1, along with the words “mind,” “goal,” “purpose,” and “heart” inscribed on the inside of the ring. Those are great words for the church today: One mind, one goal, one purpose, one heart.
The apostle Paul said something about one mission in life, and it should be a core statement for every follower of Christ who battles on the gridiron against our foe every day: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28, 29, NIV).
We fight. We battle. We contend for the faith. And, that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.