Taking Stock of Religion in Super Bowl 44

For those still undecided about the relations between sports and religion, here are a few brief recaps from Superbowl XLIV. In no significant order:

-Besides the name of the winning team from New Orleans, a banner is held up at the very end of the show (as shown on CBS) saying, “Canonize Drew Brees.”

-An advertisement for a new game, “Dante’s Inferno.” The game seems to have little to do with 14th-century theological literature, but everything to do with battles between opposing sides, and good vs. evil.

-Who is “The Who”? I can remember Roger Daltrey screaming, in the days of my youth and his (more or less), that “I hope I die before I get old!” And now there is a strangely unapologetic recitation of the same lyrics by the Senior Citizen Singer. How do we humans deal with such stages of life? What is rebellious action when one is paid so much to continue on such a rebellious way?

-And the advert battles continue. When CBS rejected a United Church of Christ’s advertisement in 2004, they said they didn’t want to get involved with religious/political issues. Yet in 2010 they have rejected a Mancrunch.com advert:

…even as they have included a Focus on the Family sponsored advert with Tim Tebow.

-An advert with a man faking his death is placed in a casket filled with Doritos and a TV, and the ceremony is set in a church. Once the casket is overturned, another man steps up and claims it is a miracle.

-Lance Moore catches a football as part of the two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. How is this “religious”? The technological reverb here, with CBS anchors saying they are still waiting on the call, sounded a whole lot like a Talmudic session, with Rabbis and referees making final calls about the lines and limits, of what is admissible and what is not.

-The body: As we are betwixt the 44th Superbowl in Miami, and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the question of the perfectable body again crops up. How can this human body be disciplined and maintained? Is it all about genetics? Or drugs? Or, possibly altered from male to female and back? Or might it just be good solid exercise?

All in all, see Gary Laderman’s RD story last year, which shows how the Janet Jackson “nipple incident” from the 2004 Superbowl crossed some boundaries and showed our collective limits on the sacred and the profane.

This list, from no particular political perspective, simply aims to display the varieties of ways religion and sports (even the super sports of the superbowl) are interconnected.

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