ISSUE

Throwing a Super Bowl party for fellowship, outreach, and (possibly) fundraising can be a great idea for your school – but watch out for some stringent NFL trademark rules that could get you penalized.

 

SITUATION

Marathon Bible College (MBC) is a private college exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(ii).  They are required to file Form 990 annually.

The MBC Accounting Team gets us on a video call to talk about their upcoming Super Bowl party.

“It’s going to be great.  We’ve lined up almost $20,000 in sponsorships.  We’ll display sponsor banners and follow the “Qualified Corporate Sponsorship” rules of the IRS.  We know we cannot say “Super Bowl,” use the NFL logo, or use the logos of the two teams in our promotions.  But, now, one of our board members is saying we can’t show it on a TV larger than 48 inches.  Is that true?”

“Good questions,” we say.  “First, the screen size is not limited by NFL rules.  However, in 2008 – in a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch – the NFL set forth guidelines for “religious organizations” who are throwing “Super Bowl” parties.  Generally, you may show the game on whatever size screen you choose; you cannot charge admission – but may take up a donation to help with the cost of the event; and to avoid any copyright infringements, churches may want to call their event a “Big Game Party” rather than a “Super Bowl Party.”

Ultimately, you need to follow these guidelines:

  • Do not use the trademarks “Super Bowl”, the NFL logo, nor the team logos in your promotions.
  • Do not charge admission for participants (although you may take up an offering to defray costs)
  • Host the party in a venue on campus that you utilize on “a routine and customary basis.”
  • You may use any size screen you want – including a projector that your school owns.

 

RULES

From NFL statement in a letter to a Senator:

“[T]he league will not object to live showings – regardless of screen size – of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis.”

 

BOTTOM LINE

  • Have you considered throwing a Super Bowl Party for fellowship and/or outreach?
  • If so, don’t call it a “Super Bowl” party.
  • You can show the game – at your party – on any size screen.
  • You should not charge admission to your “Big Game Party”

Specific questions? Email Dave Moja

The information provided herein presents general information and should not be relied on as accounting, tax, or legal advice when analyzing and resolving a specific tax issue. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, please consult with competent accounting, tax, and/or legal counsel about the facts and laws that apply.

© 2019 Christian College Resources, Inc.