I loath and despise Super Bowl Sunday. Today is the day during which I lose the most respect for the most people. Why? Allow me to explain. I believe that there are certain activities that are better left for days of the week other than Sunday. God created this world and everything that in it is in six days and rested on the seventh day (btw, I don’t think I’ve ever had four two-letter words in sequence before). Just as the Lord rested from His work, He has commanded (not asked politely, mind you) us to follow His pattern. You don’t have to be LDS to recognize that doctrine.
I learned for myself while I was serving a full-time mission that watching sports on Sunday simply is not the best thing for me to do. When I came home from serving in Brazil, I had a pretty tough time with that – I was raised in a home where one of the traditions was to come home from church and watch football. Even though I had had a change of heart, my family hadn’t, so I had to deal with hearing the TV in the other room all season long until I began school the following January. Naturally, my favorite team and the one I had followed all through high school, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, won the Super Bowl that season. What a great first season to start my abstinence of sports on the Sabbath. I watched a recording of the game the following week and it was okay, but it just wasn’t the same, so I haven’t followed pro football much since then.
Okay, so now you know where I’m coming from. You might be thinking that I simply condemn any and all who choose to watch the NFL. Hold up, I’m a critical person, but you gotta remember that my family is all about pro football. I’m sure most of us do things on Sunday on occasion that we know we shouldn’t. I’m definitely no exception in that regard. But there are two items that come to me when I think of why I lose respect for people I know on this day in particular: the mindset of compromise and opportunity cost.
I hear of so many compromises in connection with the Super Bowl – “It’s just one day a year, it’s not like I watch football every Sunday.” Or, “I just watch it for the commercials.” The rationale of “just once” is truly dangerous. That’s how many get addicted to drugs or alcohol. Once you knowingly let your guard down, you lose your entitlement to assistance from the Almighty and the Tempter is able to do his work. Many great people have allowed themselves to be dragged down to the depths of misery as a result of saying “just once.”
Yeah, the commercials are usually quite entertaining. But you just know that through the course of all the commercials there will be that one you didn’t really want to see, especially on a Sunday. It’s like a really good movie with just one inappropriate scene: “If they just wouldn’t have had that one scene, it would’ve been awesome!” True, but the scene was there, and you saw it. I hope you feel good about your life. You may recall the Janet Jackson wardrobe “malfunction” during the halftime show several years ago and the fallout that resulted. Who could’ve possibly seen that one coming?? Besides Ms. Jackson and Mr. Timberlake, no one. To me, it didn’t matter that it happened because I hadn’t put myself in a position where I would be affected by it. After that incident, I could tell that a lot of people had some level of regret over tuning in to the game at all. I’m glad no one who watched it expressed their displeasure too openly around me. My response likely would’ve been, “Come here, let me hit you over the head with this stupid stick.” I mean, if a white man is in Harlem at 2:00 a.m., should he be surprised when he gets mugged? Stupid stick for whitey, please. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is the same – if you put yourself in certain situations, you shouldn’t be too surprised when something unfavorable happens.
Another compromise I hear reference to is going to a Super Bowl party to be with family and friends. Being with those you love and care about is a good thing, but given the situation, is it really your best option? If you’re the host, then host a gathering that doesn’t include a sporting event. If you’re simply attending to support someone, then why are you lowering your standards? What if the Lord would have you be a teaching instrument for others through politely turning down the invitation? If you pass up that chance, it’s an opportunity lost.
Ultimately, compromises are merely excuses used to soothe the conscience. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that’s not the best habit to form.
Opportunity cost is a wonderful concept. Defined, it is the value of the next best alternative foregone as the result of making a decision (from Wikipedia). For example, if I have two options for a Friday night – say, watch a basketball game or go on a date – and I choose to go on a date, my opportunity cost is watching the basketball game. Pertaining to the Super Bowl, the opportunity cost for someone who watches the Super Bowl is whatever they could’ve done in its place – personal study, service to others, etc. Church firesides have been held on Super Bowl Sunday several times in the last few years. For someone who is invited to such an event, missing out on it in order to watch “the big game” is disrespectful to He who has given us everything we have. The opportunity cost can be even higher in such cases, but in any case there is a cost to watching the Super Bowl. Seeing those I care about miss out on opportunities gets me down because I simply cannot look up to them as much as I could otherwise.
If you’re reading this and were among the countless millions who watched the game, that’s cool, you have your agency. I’m not in the habit of blacklisting people just because they attend a Super Bowl party. But knowing if someone attends or does not attend molds my opinion of them and I lose or gain respect for that person accordingly. And even though how much respect Matt Schultz has for someone is quite insignificant, I’d like to think that God Himself would be happier with His children if they respected His commandment to honor the Sabbath on Super Bowl Sunday.