How to connect an audience nearly 5x the continent of Australia
It's Sunday, and I know it happened. Another Sunday School teacher, wondering why she can't get more than the lowly 5 faithful students to attend 9am classes. Today's the lord's day! Have people lost their religion? It's been documented more than one-quarter of American adults have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. However, I'm not so sure these people have left religion all together. It's quite possible football has displaced faith.
Growing up under the pews of the church, I know too well the spirit of the evangelical. You know the one that's knocking on your door Saturday morning? Or the one who mentions the "Lord" in conversation twice the times you could cycle once to your own social tic. Yeah those people, we all know one. If you live in a place like Philly, Chicago, or Texas you know a few more people like that. The only difference is their conversations are packaged with words like yards, quarterback, and touchdowns. Add all that up and it equals the value of social currency. On Sunday, football and faith may have a fairly equitable exchange rate. Come Monday through Saturday no one's talking scriptures, but they are talking fantasy. A day like today, Super Bowl Sunday, and you can forget about it! Football wins.
Okay we get that, sports and our beloved "American Football" is cool. Much cooler to enjoy and talk about than the Heritage choir that sang at service last Sunday. But what's the hook? No quasi-religion can thrive on touchdowns alone. If you want a 115 million person audience you need an ideal trigger. CC'ing: coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, porn, your favorite song on the radio, love, and other drugs. Some triggers are physiological; witnessing the silhouette of coke bottle shaped woman naturally triggers the testosterone in a man. Meanwhile other triggers are emotional, and for the past 60 years I can't think of anything that's been more synonymous with Sunday.
It's a reality that people reach semi-depression every Sunday after the Super Bowl. Descending from the high of the "Big Game" and realizing it's gone for 6 months. A sport that is tied to our country's culture code. A culture of adolescence, where the top 1% of the masculine gene pool combat for prize of being called the best. The perpetual narrative of our competitive society. Our values are defined in ordered lists, rankings, and polls. Primarily interested in what ends with "-st"; First, last, best, and worst.
Want to bring 115 million together? Start a religion. It doesn't necessarily involve a God, but "gods". Curate a narrative attached to our regional identities, share the stories of the gladiators we can relate with, and involve habit forming activities. Toss out some Tostitos chip or savory snacks to dip, dipped with emotional attachment and impressions. Involve the culture's favorite ale (beer), and its consumption will re-fuel their covenant and keep the party going!
While you're on the way to the party, rooting for your favorite team, or enjoying the commercials take a few seconds to wonder. How else can we connect 115 million people?