It's settled. This year's Super Bowl will be between the two teams that had racked up a string of wins this season, and each almost went undefeated in their respective conferences. Now they will go head-to-head in Miami on February 7th at 6pm.
Neither is my team. However, there's no question that I am pulling for the New Orleans Saints in this one because--please--do you need an explanation? That city has suffered so much following Hurricane Katrina. The Saints have NEVER gone to the Super Bowl. A win in Miami would be such a morale booster for the city of fun, fun, fun. New Orleans is America's party town. And the folks on Bourbon Street were, no doubt, have quite a party after their overtime win last night against the 'never-say-die' Brett Favre and his Minnesota Vikings.
But that's not my dilemma.
The rector of St. John's has unbelievably scheduled our parish's annual meeting for February 7th at 6pm.
Yes. The exact same time that most of America will be settled down in front of a television screen with chicken wings, chips and beer... my rector wants parishoners to come listen to our budget woes and the direction in which we're moving, with our casseroles, salads and cake. He wants people to choose between "God" or "The Game". I asked him before the service yesterday, "Are you a football fan?"
"College football. Why? Because the annual meeting is at the same time as the Super Bowl?"
"Y'know, I put that question to the 9 o'clock service, if they knew what was happening on Feb. 7th and nobody said anything."
This unscientific method of assessing whether American people care about the Super Bowl (or at least a congregation at St. John's on a Sunday morning) aside, let's consider the measured audience for these games.
The Super Bowl in 2004 between the most excellent New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers had a viewership of 144-million making it the most-watched program in U.S. television history. The Super Bowl viewership last year was down significantly. Only 95.7 million watched the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals. Advertisers LOVE the Super Bowl, and pour lots and lots of money into the commercials, making the ads one of the odd highlights of the game. It is very common that in offices the day after "The Game", people gathered around the water cooler will be saying, "Oh, did you see the Budweiser ad with the frogs?" Do Americans love their Super Bowl? Yes, they do. And with the emotional pull of the Saints being in this game, people are going to watch.
Unless they are at the parish annual meeting at St. John's. So, my dilemma has nothing to do with who is playing; my dilemma is whether I will forgo an American past-time to participate in the life of my church.
There are solutions to this dilemma. The meeting COULD happen between services (we've done that before). The meeting COULD happen next Sunday (when the Pro Bowl is on and nobody cares). The meeting COULD happen right after services on Sunday the 7th; thus assuring that everyone keeps their complaints to a minimum, so they can go home and get the chicken wings in the oven or the fryer.
The possibilities to avoid this dilemma exist.
Or it can be solved simply.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Go Saints!
Television statistics on Super Bowl viewership from NFL.com.