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super_bowl_xLivThe Super Bowl is not just another NFL game.  It has become an intensified concentration of vulgarity and ego, with enough athletics in the game and cleverness in the commercials to trick me into watching.  It’s simply not what I’m living for.

That was my last Super Bowl.

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39 thoughts on “My last Super Bowl”

  1. Dave says:

    Amen! I had exactly the same feeling.

  2. Wayne Roberts says:

    Does anyone know what “Go Daddy” really does? I have yet to figure it out.

    1. bobw says:

      they host websites. they actually do a good job at a good price, but their marketing is terrible.

  3. Stephen says:

    It’s also troubling that when the Super Bowl comes to town it brings with it an influx of child prostitution and human trafficking…especially when it’s Miami.

  4. Andrew Faris says:

    Isn’t the Super Bowl one of the best opportunities out there to spend time with non-Christians? The vulgarity is a real problem, no doubt about it. I don’t know- it just seems to me that you could be missing a big, easy opportunity to make relationships with unsaved people.


  5. Randy says:

    child prostitution? Human trafficking? Really? Can you give good, substantial evidence of this?

  6. Brian says:

    Volunteers fight dark side of Super Bowl: child prostitution

  7. Andrew:

    Yes, it is a big, easy opportunity to make relationships… but life is full of big, easy opportunities that aren’t nearly as compromising. A run in the park, Parent’s Day at your child’s school for those who have children, the high school reunions, a luncheon with your coworkers, the cashier at the grocery store you keep running into, the people on the Internet forums you frequent… Life is full of opportunities to make relationships.

    The Super Bowl, however, is a very compromising opportunity because a lot of the people there are idolizing their teams, or the sport, or the event in general- it is THE Super Bowl, after all. There’s also the cheerleaders. And here you are, intending to show them that they shouldn’t be making a god here, that they should be loving Christ… and yet you’re at the Super Bowl. Watching it. Possibly even enjoying a minute here or there. For everyone around you, that automatically makes you “one of them”, whether it’s true or not.

    Regardless of how you truly feel about the Super Bowl, being there, watching it, enjoying it, and all that is going to create an impression. It seems to me that it would be the wrong impression, and that could hinder your gospel message. There are plenty of other opportunities that don’t create that kind of impression.

  8. Norman says:

    There are few unifying events for a society; moments around which a culture gathers and gains a universal cultural touchstone. Usually they are tragedies: war, 9/11, earthquakes and floods. The Super Bowl is a cultural icon and our participation in watching it; hosting a party; at least being conversant with who is playing, etc., gives us access to that conversation.

  9. Christian says:

    It seems that Ray Ortland was reading my mind as I watched the game! I was thinking that it should be my last Super Bowl game ever, and perhaps NFL game as well.

    The ads and sheer spectacle of the Super Bowl are certainly more objectionable than the ordinary game. However, can NFL games really be separated from the Super Bowl, since the Super Bowl is the prize all teams are striving for?

    Living in the Greater New Orleans area, the thought “this is not what I’m living for” is certainly appropriate, and the statement was exactly what I was thinking last night. Throughout the season and especially last night, you could hear and see so many people expressing that “This is a life long dream” and “This is what I’ve been waiting for all my life.” Football is indeed a religion for many, especially in the so-called Bible Belt. (Of course no one has ever accused New Orleans of being in the Bible Belt.)

    Even professing Christians were pouring into Bourbon St. to take part in the revelry. Were they there to share Christ? One would hope so, but I doubt it. It seems to me that the appropriate Christian response is to be grieved as righteous Lot was in the midst of the depravity of Sodom.

  10. Mike Porfiris says:

    I guess I have a different view. While I do believe the Superbowl is overrated (as C.J. Mahaney agrees), I think it was something different this time around. Yes, the ads are crude and terrible. But being a Saints fan who lives in New Orleans, this Superbowl meant a lot to us. I went out in the city and everyone was going crazy. All unified with one thought in mind. Let’s pray that New Orleans becomes unified in the fact that Christ is our Savior, Lord, and King! Cheers.

  11. Bill Weber says:

    I didn’t watch the game this year. However, when I do watch it, I watch the game, not the commercials or pre game or half-time shows. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl attracts lots of non-fans, and that causes the game to be surrounded by hoopla and entertainment, and entertainment is not G-rated in the USA.

    But if Ray’s complaint is about commercials, commercials are vulgar and inappropriate all the time! So, that’s nothing new nor suprising, nor unique to the Super Bowl.

  12. Paul C says:

    I didn’t watch the game (but watched the highlights this morning). But the comments made by Christian seem to reflect my sentiment in regards to this whole thing. Football is a religion and the athletes are gods. NFL is a brilliant marketing machine. And sadly, Christians are largely just sheep.

    All this junk about an opportunity to share Christ and build relationships is just tripe. This can be done any time of the year. We get the same arguments justifying Christian MMA fighting.

    In my view, it’s also sad (call me self-righteous?) when churches cancel evening services (in the name of family-time) in order for their congregation to watch the game.

  13. Mark says:

    I’d like to point something out as I did at theJakers blog linked post above.

    Without further clarification from Mr. Ortlund we don’t know if he is intending to make a conscience binding theological point. He is merely expressing a personal opinion. He didn’t talk about witnessing to anyone or try to compel people onto more spiritual and Christ honoring things.

    He gave a simple point of view that anyone, Christian or not, could have said. I.e. look at this Stupor Bowl Sunday post which quotes a non-Christian at the end.

  14. Randy says:

    Thanks. I guess I am naive about more than I think. That shocks me.

  15. James says:

    I’m from Canada. At first glance I wondered what all the fuss is about. If it is the ads on TV, it might be interesting to you that our national network, CTV, carried their own ads (mostly on the 2010 Winter Olympics). So if that is true we were spared the misery. I thought it was a good game. From a risky short kick to a fortunate interception, it made for good football.

  16. Erin says:

    Good for you! I never watch it so I’m not really sure what you’re talking about. But I know you love football so I respect your decision not to overlook things that offend you. P.S. On my last flight into Regina last night, the pilot kept coming on the intercom to update all of the sleepy travelers on the Superbowl–I was hoping for an update on the weather, the route, I don’t care about football!

  17. Erin says:

    P.S. To James above, my flight was on Air Canada so I assume my pilot was Canadian.

  18. David Charles says:

    Ah, it is on the Lord’s Day. Does this matter to anyone?

    1. Ray Nearhood says:

      Yes. Which is the sole reason that last year’s Super Bowl was my last.

  19. matthew birch says:

    Just TiVo it and skip the commercials!

  20. Gary says:

    When you feel it’s not for you, you gotta stop. Somebody might try to say, “Are you going to then avoid all things containing vularity and ego? Isn’t that most commercial TV and much of ‘the world?'” But I don’t think that’s the point. If it’s sin for you, that’s it.

    In the last few years I’ve discovered I can deeply follow my Texas Longhorns and Indiana Hoosiers thru blogs. It’s too much, I’m going too far — I can recite the narrative of games and seasons, and sometimes I find myself during the season reviewing those narratives in my head first thing in the morning walking the dog. And that’s not from watching full games — just snatches, and DVR skims and then maybe 5 minutes a day reading blogs.

    My wife tries to tell me, “Gary, it’s OK, relax.” But the little daily drip adds up to a little preoccupation that takes my mind away from more meaningful things. You can only think of one thing at a time, you know. I just sense it’s not right, though I would never tell anyone else not to.

    So for me, same challenge — it’s not what I’m living for.

  21. Filipe Niel says:

    ESPN Brasil shows only the game… so we don’t get to see the comercials here, what I guess is a good thing!

  22. Norman says:

    listen to your wife and relax. Y’all don’t be so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good. Non-Christians are your guilt target, not your real target, if you are unwilling to join the superbowl conversation. Not that the superbowl is the only locus for your malaise but it illustrates the tortured souls you are lugging around which are totally non attractive, non engaging and … Icky for someone looking for a positive friend he can relate to.

  23. Matt Redmond says:


    I think you hit a nerve here…one coursing with idols. thanks for this.

  24. Gaye Clark,Evans Georgia says:

    “ is on the Lord’s Day. Does this matter to anyone?” Amen Bro.
    Where are the Eric Liddells of our day? Did not his abstension on Sunday- at great personal sacrifice not only bring God glory, but alos led to a profound witness for generations to come?
    Thanks for your courage, Dr. Ortlund. If there were more like you, maybe our young folks would gather around something more profound than a super size screen on Sunday night.
    Lord give us greater ambitions, healther pass times.

  25. JR says:

    Why are you only applying this ethic to the super bowl?

    Appears to be a slippery slope???

  26. Mark says:

    It’s funny how many comments this short post generated. Mr. Ortlund hardly expounded on the subject. There is just not enough information for some of the objections raised. For example, JR’s last comment. How does one know Ortlund is only applying this ethic to the Super Bowl?

  27. Matt Redmond says:


    Ray has no need of me to defend him but I am going to anyway.

    First, how do you know he is only applying this to the Super Bowl? He simply wrote a short paragraph in the context of a Super Bowl weekend. It was the subject at hand and was not meant to be and should not be applied as a pervasive critique of the multifaceted parts of our culture. He applied this ethic to the Super Bowl because this was his only subject. He should not cover any other subject at all for us to think deeply about what he said.

    Second, if your second sentence is a statement posed as a question then I would have to ask, “Why”? What about his statement about a singular subject can be construed as to be a slippery slope? At most it is a step in particular direction. Again, it is one subject, the Super Bowl, a singular event in our culture. There is nothing about his statement that necessitates an expectation of a slippery slope.

    Third, a reasonable response to Ray’s post would be, “Hmm, that might be worth thinking about and dialoging about.” This is proper because not only did he not make any pronouncements about anyone else’s need to follow him in his decision but also because it was not an argument. It was a statement of personal conviction.

    Fourth, your response seems to be a veiled defense of your enjoyment and the lack of a shared conviction. You could have just as well have shared your feelings and be assured Ray would have enjoyed your perspective.

  28. JR says:

    First of all I think Deeper Still is the best blog going. I absolutely love it, and I gain more insight from it than any blog I visit. I fear my inquiry was read with a harsher tone than I intended. And Matt, I have no idea the breadth to which Pastor Ortlund is applying this ethic so in that sense I receive your correction. The direction from which I was commenting is in relation to Pastor Ortlund’s appreciation of art or popular music. His comments could be reframed like this:

    “Rock and Roll music is not just another genre. It has become an intensified concentration of vulgarity and ego, with enough brilliance in the muscianship and cleverness in the lyrics to trick me into listening. It’s simply not what I’m living for.”

    Does that make sense?

    I did not comment to be an apologist of the super bowl. I enjoyed the two and half quarters I watched, and I excused myself or talked to a friend during most of the commercials (I watched the Tebow ads, and those E-trade babies make me laugh). I actually share his conviction about the carnality of the advertising content. So even though I don’t think I could confuse football for “something I am living for” I do understand the trajectory of Ray’s comment/conviction. I just wonder, and not in an indicting way, how this conclusion is arrived at, and in what way it applies to the other media/entertainment we consume? Certainly it does apply, but why this and maybe not that?

    Sorry to those of you I upset. It did make me think, and my statement concerning a slippery slope was not a declaration. I followed it with questions marks to convey curiosity, and possibly spur dialogue…the very thing Matt called for and provided. However, I agree this was was a statement of personal conviction, but since it is one that he made public on his blog it seems to be more than that.

  29. Ethan says:

    The beauty of watching the Super Bowl in the UK – no commercials, just football.

  30. Joe says:

    It’s on TV. By definition that makes it vulgar. Real … maybe just smart … or growing … Christians don’t watch TV. I am believing that more and more.

    1. Jeremy says:

      So is “Planet Earth” the discovery channel vulgar? I think you may be reaching…but thats just me.

  31. Thoroughly enjoy the game and the group of people that I was with that day. This game and all that is around it gives me a glimpse into what the culture values– great sermon stuff. I will continue watching.

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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