The date was January 15, 1967. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10 in the First World Championship Game: AFL vs NFL. (The game wasn’t called the Super Bowl until after Super Bowl III.) There are a few things you may not know about that first historic game. For example, tickets started at $7.50. The stadium was half empty. The game was broadcast on two channels: CBS and NBC. The halftime show featured trumpeter Al Hirt. A commercial cost $42,000 ($5 million today). The game was blacked out in Los Angeles.
Last night we had the 50th Super Bowl, with Denver winning their third title in nine tries, the most appearances of any team. It was the perfect ending for quarterback Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest to ever play his position. With two Super Bowl championships under his belt, the soon-to-be 40-year-old Manning will ride into retirement on a high note.
There were two significant events yesterday. The Super Bowl was the most talked about, of course. Total viewership topped 117 million. The other event is called “church.” Yesterday, 56 million attended church. While that is down from the “good ‘ol days,” it’s still half of a Super Bowl audience. And unlike the Super Bowl, those 56 million had to get up early, get dressed, drive to church, and in many cases, pay their tithes and offerings. Super Bowl watchers had to get up late, grab a bag of potato chips, open a can of (root) beer, and turn on their TV.
I love the Super Bowl. I never miss it. But I love church more. The game made me cheer. Church made me cry – a good cry. The announcers made me laugh. My pastor made me laugh more – he’s a really funny guy. The game entertained me. My church blessed me – it always does. Before the game started, I turned on the pregame for a few minutes of commentary. Before church started, I was there an hour and a half early – I love the fellowship. When the game was over, I turned off the TV. When church was over, I stood in the back and talked to about 50 people – I never want to leave.
Next year, I will watch Super Bowl 51. I’ll be pulling for my Houston Texans, though the only way they will likely be there is by buying tickets on Stub Hub. But before I watch the game, I’ll be at Good Life Church in Bradenton, Florida, where we “share the good news and our very lives” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). I’ll enjoy awesome fellowship, great worship, and the best preaching in Florida, unless Jason Smith has the day off. Super Bowl Sunday comes once a year. Super Sunday comes every week.