The NFL and the Church: The Battle for Sunday

As the Catholic Church lost its’ influence over Sundays, the NFL moved to take its’ place.


For a day that was once virtually owned by the Catholic Church, it is amazing to see that the National Football League has taken the day from them. As a child, having attended Catholic School, I learned that Sunday was to be used as the day of rest and worship. You were to not work and were to attend church. While this was largely not the reality through my lifetime, back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this was common.

The Decline of an Empire and the Rise of Another

Since that time period, after having reached a peak of influence over much of the modern world, the Catholic Church has been losing followers in the United States. This is perhaps due to a push toward secularism and just a general lack of people desiring to follow any religion. What has particularly hurt the Catholic Church however are all of the various child sex abuse scandals that had been covered up by different levels of Archdiocesan officials over the last few decades. As the number of religious people in the United States, and worshiping on Sundays has fallen over the years, it is no surprise that something filled the void of time left by not attending church. Enter the NFL. It is truly remarkable to see the amount of money spent on marketing and advertising during NFL football games these days. The entire day of Sunday is dedicated to a sport that has existed for much less time than the Catholic Church.

The New Empire Expands on Shaky Ground

Interestingly enough, as the NFL continues to push to expand television coverage, they seem to be experiencing a loss in viewership. According to Nielsen Statistics, television ratings are down across the board for all of the NFL’s games held in the prime-time slot, regardless of what day the game is held. The reason for this has been widely speculated. First and foremost, the actions of Colin Kaepernick and other players protesting during the National Anthem are sure to have riled up some NFL fans resulting in them not watching some games. Others speculate that the NFL, in its push to generate more revenue, has saturated the market with too much football. Everywhere you look, there is football. The NFL Player’s Combine and Draft now has so much fanfare that NFL fans that just want to see the live games may be tuning out altogether. We will see what becomes of the NFL as they seemingly just continue to expand to other markets around the world.


As we have seen the expansion and contraction of the Catholic Church throughout the course of history, so too may we be seeing an expansion and potential contraction of NFL. If the largest Christian Church in the world lost its influence over the United States population, you can bet that the same can happen to the largest sport’s league in the world. The NFL should take a long hard look at the consequences of over saturation and league wide player protests that may be hurting their brand so they do not end up losing their sacred Sunday that they fought so hardly to attain.

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