Poll: Half of Americans Believe God Plays Role in Sports Outcomes
If you’ve ever watched a game on television and witnessed fans with their hands clasped in prayer and their eyes closed, it’s pretty easy to guess that they are praying for the outcome of the game to go their way.
In fact, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, one out of ever four people in America pray to God to help their team win. And the same number of people believe that their team has been cursed by God, with that number rising to 80% when it includes only Chicago Cubs fans.
Okay, so we made that last part up.
Additionally, 19% of Americans believe that God determines the outcome of games. All in all, fully half of all Americans fall into at least one of the above three categories.
So with the Super Bowl just on the horizon, you can bet that God’s prayer hotline will be ringing off the hook once the two participants are decided this weekend in the AFC and NFC championship games. He may even have to put those folks on hold who are asking Him for help with sick family members or families in poverty who are not sure where their next meal is coming from. It’s the SUPER BOWL, dammit!
The poll also indicates that one out of every five fans perform a ritual before the game to bring good luck, and two-thirds of those fans say that their rituals involved wearing jerseys or clothing with their team’s colors.
The survey of more than 1,000 adults was conducted by phone Jan. 8-12, by PRRI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Below is a graphic of their findings.
We believe that the poll merely illustrates the importance of sports in American’s lives. We wonder if Americans pray more about the fortunes of their favorite sport teams than about events and people in the word that are out of their loop. Do Americans pray more to God for help with starvation in third-world African nations, for example, than about whether their favorite team wins the Super Bowl or the World Series?
I’m kind of afraid to know the answer to that one, because I think I know what the answer would be, assuming that people put aside their guilt, if they feel any, and answer the question honestly.
And then there is the question of whether God plays a hand in the outcome of sports. Why should God care? Does He not have more important things to deal with?
And if God has already predetermined the outcome of sporting events, why pray at all? Fans of BOTH teams pray for their side to win. Do we really believe that God takes a count of which fans of which team prays the most and uses that to make His decision? It seems like if God were to use such factors that He’d pick the teams from the most religious areas of the country to win. But that obviously isn’t the case. Usually the large-market teams from the coasts tend to do better at winning, but the cities on the coasts are generally less religious than the teams in the Midwest and the South. They generally win because the large market teams on the coasts have access to more money to spend on better players than their smaller counterparts do.
The last two World Series winners are the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants, for example. Both of those cities are amongst the bottom ten cities in the country when ranked by religious adherents.
The same circumstances apply to the majority of NBA and NFL championship teams as well. Miami? Los Angeles? Boston? New York? Baltimore? New Orleans? Come on… we are dealing with stereotypes here, but you catch our drift.
And there is no evidence that the religiosity of the players on each respective team has any effect either. If that were true, then Oral Roberts or some other Christian-based university would have won an NCAA basketball title by now, right?
So when the Super Bowl is played this year, just keep this in mind… God doesn’t care who wins, nor does He have a role in injuring the other team’s best player, if it happens, so the other team can’t win.
If you want to influence the outcome, just wear your dirty underwear over your pants with a team jersey on, as one fan does.
That’ll be just as good as praying for divine intervention.
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