A stake with a Super Bowl problem

February 1, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 3:20 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Our stake has a problem.

Next Sunday is stake conference. This stake conference is one of those new-fangled regional ones with a general authority speaking to us all at once via broadcast. President Monson will be presiding so that certainly helps the potential draw. But here in our town there has been such explosive growth that we now have three stakes all sharing one stake center. Each stake gets a block of time at the stake center this Sunday for conference with the high school performing arts center next door handling the usually massive overflow.

Our scheduled time for conference?

4:00 P.M. MST…

…On Super Bowl Sunday.

So that leaves families with an interesting choice now doesn’t it? Take all your squirmy little kids to a late afternoon two hour dark and noisy fun-fest in hard chairs at the back of the stake center (or in a high school auditorium) or stay home with them. Even if you hate football, this is not an easy call. If you love football… well…

I’m not sure what our stake membership numbers are; but out of all the active members of the stake, what percentage do you guess will show up Sunday afternoon?


  1. I would guess about 50%. From what I have seen a lot of people take stake conference off anyway. It will be interesting with a new format, and President Monson though. My father served for about 9 years as a member of a Stake Presidency. One sunday (years after he was released) I called home and found out that he didn’t go to stake conference. He said that when he was in the presidency he really felt that stake conference was a vital thing, but that they really aren’t. We had a laugh at that. Let me know how the game turns out :)

    Comment by Eric — February 1, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  2. Ooh, that is a problem, especially because my ‘Hawks are playing! Ask someone to take notes for you :)

    Funny story… Of course on Super Bowl Sunday the stake planned a multi-stake priesthood meeting right in the middle of the game. Two of our roommates were pre-missionaries and said there was no way they were going to the meeting (so they could watch the whole game). My other roommate, who was incredibly anal about stuff like this, continually condemned them for not planning on going to the meeting and for putting things of the world ahead of things of God. As we were leaving the apartment to go to the meeting he gave one parting shot that (suprisingly!) didn’t convince the pre-mees to go to the meeting. Half way through the meeting we look over at our anal roommate and he was fast asleep. It was awesome.

    And I have to say I can’t express how lame it is for stakes to plan anything out of the ordinary over the Super Bowl.

    Comment by Rusty — February 1, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  3. When did the SuperBowl switch to February? I remember it as the last weekend in January growing up…

    Comment by Téa — February 1, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  4. (what no football/game/dilemma themed song?)

    Comment by Téa — February 1, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

  5. This is a complete threadjack, but what the heck! My question is- What is your favorite Super Bowl snack or food? I’m thinking about doing BBQ wings.

    Comment by C Jones — February 1, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  6. Sorry… Song still coming…

    Comment by Geoff J — February 1, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

  7. Ok — I went with a party theme on rado.blog. And since two Fishbone songs is better than one I went with their classic “Party at Ground Zero”. I know the whole version is kinda long… but hey — so is the Super Bowl.

    C Jones – I like like wings. Of course I like most everything I get served at a party so I might not be much help…

    Rusty – I agree with you. But one of our stakes was stuck with the late session so I guess it might as well be ours.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 1, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

  8. Ummm, I may be condemned for saying this…especially since I have two siblings and one cousin in Queen Creek, too…but couldn’t you go to one of the other sessions? I mean, no doubt someone’s stake will be at nine or ten, one or two pm, etc. If you don’t know the times, I could ask around for you! And if enough people in your stake do that, at least it will be spread out in the other stakes.

    Comment by Keryn — February 1, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  9. Yeah I suspect that is what many of our stake members will do Keryn. It seems like that is a better option than entirely ditching.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 1, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

  10. We have Break-the-fast this Sunday. Last year it was on Superbowl Sunday also. I was quite surprised at the numbers in attendance and the guys who came. It seemed not to be a big deal to them. You may be surprised too.

    Comment by chronicler — February 1, 2006 @ 7:35 pm

  11. It was worth the wait–sorry for my impatience!

    Comment by Téa — February 1, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  12. During the 2002 Olympics, we held the priesthood leadership session of stake conference on the same day as what ended up being the finals for the Canada/USA men’s hockey game. While the streets of the rest of Canada was dead and every bar throughout the country was packed, we still managed to fill up half the chapel.

    Besides watching football on Sundays is evil.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 1, 2006 @ 9:47 pm

  13. One thing that I would *Never* do is hack the broadcast so the the game is up on the big screen….


    Comment by ed — February 1, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  14. watching football on Sundays is evil

    I hope I go to hell (TK) where there are tons of guys and gals who love to get together on Sundays in the spirit of comeradery (sp?) and throw big tailgate parties and watch a great game. For me, heaven is where there’s a sweet football game. And air shows — F-15s are the coolest.

    best snack

    Dude, chicken wings is quite cool, I admit. We go with the multi-layered (about 6 layers or so) chip dip — refried beans, meat, sour cream, tomatoes, olives, and some guacamole. Tostitos chips work well if you get the thick (not low-fat) ones.

    super bowl in February

    Tea, depends on where Sundays fall on the calendars n stuff. There also used to not be a bye-week between the conference championships and the SB. In other years, there was a two-week bye. I wish they’d play it the week after the conference championships, myself.

    how many will show up

    You’d be lucky to get above 2/3, IMO.

    Comment by David J — February 1, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

  15. The numbers guessed so far are probably way off. Here’s some church administrivia for you:
    Almost universally across the church, regardless of country, economy, culture, or population; regular church attendance is right near twice the number of callings in the ward or branch. In typical Utah/Arizona wards, there are around 125 callings or so, and you will see around 180 – 250 attendance every sunday. It makes no difference how many names are on the records. The smallest number of callings necessary for a branch to function separately is 30, and in branches with 30 callings they usually get 60 people at church. Bizarre. This report was given in a leadership training by a GA who had noticed this phenomenon while touring Latin America.

    I’d guess that Geoff’s stake’s wards (I know the area well) are around 400-500 in membership, with around 50% attendance in regular church services. I think stake conferences are usually in the 30-40% attendance. You’d probably expect that to lean towards the 40% since Pres. Monson is speaking. However, it is an interesting experiment to see how powerfully the super bowl draws. Personally, I think its quite likely that the people who’d skip church for the super bowl would probably not go to SC anyway, so I think the impact will be nominal.

    I’m going to guess that SC attendance for almost any American stake being held at that time frame will be in the area of 35%.

    Comment by Clay — February 2, 2006 @ 8:40 am

  16. Tea and Dave J,
    The super bowl is later now because of wild card games. More playoff games equals more money for everyone! Except fans. They are only spending more.

    Comment by Clay — February 2, 2006 @ 8:45 am

  17. I’m Tivo-ing the game so I can go back and look at the commercials anyway, so a delayed start wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    It was great having playoff games on Saturday a few weeks back… All the correlation-approved party, none of the Sabbath guilt!

    As to the SuperBowl food… I’m all about the wings, but I’ve made this recipe before and it rocks. Best of all, you get the thrill of buying a bottle of beer out of convenience store cold case! Try not to be seen doing so…

    Comment by Chad Too — February 2, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  18. Read here about some info as to why the Superbowl is now in February. It started in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks. It’s stayed that way ever since. The reasons are different, however.

    I’ll be sharing my testimony, on Sunday, using football terms and symbols. “I know Jesus is the head coach of the Church today. President Hinckley, like a QB, receives direction from above.”

    Comment by dp — February 2, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  19. “I know Jesus is the head coach of the Church today. President Hinckley, like a QB, receives direction from above.”

    Lol! Nice.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 2, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  20. This reminds me of a comment a bishop of mine made once:

    “The pioneers had to deal with frostbite, miscarriages and the death of children and family members. We complain about church meetings during the Super Bowl.”

    Comment by Ivan Wolfe — February 2, 2006 @ 11:59 am

  21. I remember going to sacrament meeting on January 12, 1969, after Super Bowl III. One of the speaker in that meeting mentioned, among all the other things going wrong for him that weekend, the fact that “Joe Namath and the Jet-set from New York were beating up on his Baltimore Colts.”

    I didn’t watch that game–we didn’t have a TV in the house back then–but I do remember going outside that warm January day in a T-shirt and shooting some baskets in my backyard.

    It may be too late for this year, but a travel tip: If you have to fly sometime around the first weekend of February, and can schedule the flight for the evening of the Super Bowl, you’re in for a treat. A few years back I was on a crowded flight from LaGuardia to O’Hare, which landed about 15 minutes before kickoff. I saw about a half-hour of the game in the terminal, and then got on a flight to SLC that had about 10 passengers. No sardine can packing for the passengers that night. A personal flight attendant. Room to spread out and relax. Flying the way it oughta be!

    Comment by Mark B. — February 2, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

  22. Mark B. – Nice memories and travel tips. We’ll see if there is room to stretch out at the stake center come Sunday at 4:00 PM too…

    Clay – I agree with you that the numbers are too high. However, my guess is that if our stake has an average weekly attendance of 2000 members (the sum of people at the various sacrament meetings) then the typical stake conference attendance is 1500 people. Or in other words 25% fewer butts in seats just because it is stake conference and no one is counting. Maybe you think that is high but with so many families with little kids in this area and no nursery I suspect a healthy number of them stay home simply because the little ones can’t handle two full hours of conference. And since the kids count in attendance that adds up to 25% pretty quickly. (I’m totally guessing here, BTW)

    So with the late start time and the super bowl I think the number could go as high as a 50%+ drop off on the average weekly attendance in the stake. Between the regular factors, the Super Bowl, the young demographic in the stake, and the odds of some going to the previous broadcasts, I don’t think that is a stretch. We might not need overflow at all if my prediction is right…

    Comment by Geoff J — February 2, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

  23. My FIL is convinced that the Second Coming will occur on Super Bowl Sunday in order to help distinguish the sheep from the goats.

    Comment by MDS — February 2, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

  24. I’m going with 35-40%.

    Comment by meems — February 2, 2006 @ 7:50 pm

  25. to Clay, comment #15.

    I love the idea, that average attendance equals twice the number of callings extended, but I don’t really get how that worked in branches. When I was in a branch, we had two or three callings each, but attendance wasn’t supplemented with four to six extra people per “worker.”

    Comment by Johnna Cornett — February 3, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  26. Johna,
    I think it actually broke down to twice the number of people with callings, moreso than the number of callings. Of course, nothing is really going to be universal, but the GA who discovered it noticed that pattern in South America first, then started looking at numbers for other areas. The statistics were shared in the context that of Pres. Hinckley’s “a friend, a calling, and nourished by the word of God” hierarchy of needs, he was suggesting that a calling is the most important. I don’t think I agree, but the stats were interesting anyway.

    Comment by Clay — February 3, 2006 @ 7:31 am

  27. The average sacrament meeting attendance in our stake has historically been around 44%, with stake conference at around 23% (we’re in Utah).

    Comment by Mike B — February 4, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  28. When one receives more utility from attending Stake Conference than one gets from Super Bowl Sunday, than Stake Conference will be the beneficiary. I, however, have yet been to a Stake Conference that come anywhere close to providing the same amount of utility than a Super Bowl. They are mind-numbingly boring, and add two pre-schoolers to the mix and they become a version of hell I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemies. Pre-school children and Stake Conference = DOESN’T MIX.

    I get more out of reading books such as The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the scriptures than I do out of 20 Stake Conferences.

    Comment by Speaking Up — February 5, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

  29. Ok so I went to conference this afternoon (Kristen stayed home with the munchkins). I was a little late so I went to the High School overflow — no luck; it was shut down. So I went to the Stake Center and found a very nice parking spot right away. The parking lot was only about 75% full. I went in and the pews were filled but I’d say that about 1/3 of the chairs int eh overflow were open. It looked like 500-600 people to me which I would guess is probably between 25-30% of the active members of the stake.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 5, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  30. We had a better turn out than you Geoff. Break the fast had 65 YSAers and 2/3 of them were guys. We usually have 75-80 so fallout wasn’t all that bad. Let’s hear it for TIVO!

    Comment by chronicler — February 6, 2006 @ 10:35 am

  31. I realize this discussion is really old and that I am reading it for the first time today which is totally lame, but I really really need to tell a story about one of my bishops.

    Years ago (25+) when I was first married our block of meetings was in the afternoon. The week before the Super Bowl our bishop invited everyone in the ward to his house after church the next week to watch the game. He would record it, we would watch it on a big screen and there would be all the food and Pepsi we could consume. (His day job was as the bigwig at the local Pepsi distributor.) This was an annual thing in that ward and he wanted everyone at church and then everyone at his house later. He announced all of this in sacrament meeting and I thought it was so cool. We were too new to the ward/not into sports/newlyweds/strangers to participate, but I have always admired him for that. Whether I should or not is another subject.

    He also told us that no one with facial hair could possibly have the spirit with him…. Also another subject.

    Comment by onecrazymama — April 6, 2009 @ 2:01 pm