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Can You Legally Host a Super Bowl Sunday Party?

The Super Bowl is only a few weeks away. If your church or ministry will sponsor an event for the game, make sure you do everything legally. The NFL holds copyrights and trademarks to the televised game, the term "Super Bowl," and all logos and branding associated with the league and its teams. Churches are not exempt from copyright and trademark laws. If they infringe on the intellectual property rights of the club, they can find themselves paying hefty penalties.

Man in a dog costume going to a football game

How Can a Church Advertise a Super Bowl Party?

First, How Not to Avertise the Super Bowl

The NFL aggressively protects the "Super Bowl" logo and the term "Super Bowl". Thus, don't use those terms in any advertising. Churches should also stay clear of logo images, like the Super Bowl shield, team logos, and any copyrighted material from other publications.

What Can You Use to Advertise Your Event?

If you can't call it a "Super Bowl" and can't use logos, advertising can seem like a guessing game. However, there are some easy ways churches can advertise:

  • Infer the game: Instead of "Super Bowl," think of a different but similar term. For instance, call it "The Sunday Game," the "Big Game," or "NFL Party" -- You can use the term "NFL".

  • Use Themed Images: Unsplash has various free - and copyright-free - images that you can use to denote a "football game party." Use those to make your advertisements highlight a game.

Can Churches Charge for a Super Bowl Party?

Unfortunately, churches cannot charge for a Super Bowl party. Since the NFL owns the broadcast, they can sue you for publicly showing the event at a cost.

Churches can host a party for free and request a donation as long as those donations only defray food and other expenses. Donations are allowed only because churches are non-profit. Start earning a profit and donations can also cause problems.

Finally, churches can only show the game on equipment they already own. They can't go out and purchase a large-screen TV for the express purpose of delivering the game. This could move your event into the realm of a public event.

What About State Law for Public Parties?

Most copyright law is federal law. State law can create additional issues for churches.

We strongly suggest reviewing state law for your state before having a Super Bowl party. A 30-minute review can help reduce problems down the road. Here are some websites that may help:

Need Additional Help?

Below are some links to help you stay legally secure when sponsoring an event for the Big Game.

Hosting a Football Party? (Church Law & Tax)

NFL Copyright Guidelines (Brotherhood Mutual Insurance)


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