Their hands might be gifted and their feet fast – their strategies on the field might be absolutely cunning, but a quarter of Americans don’t really think it matters. They believe that that God personally controls who wins the Super Bowl. That’s probably more positive than the people who believe that cheating and corruption controls who wins football games, but it’s pretty compelling just the same.
The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service. It showed that 26 percent of Americans, and 27 percent of those who describe themselves as sports fans, believe God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event. The majority of Americans (71 percent, and 69 percent of sports fans in general) disagree, and a quarter of those surveyed also said that they were more likely be watching football than going to church.
A majority of Americans (53 percent) believe God rewards athletes who have a faith by giving them good health and success, and among sports fans this figure is slightly higher (56 percent). Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert Jones said in a statement that the majority of Americans think God has a place on the field.
“As Americans tune in to the Super Bowl this year, fully half of fans — as many as 70 million Americans — believe there may be a twelfth man on the field influencing the outcome. Significant numbers of American sports fans believe in invoking assistance from God on behalf of their favorite team, or believe the divine may be playing out its own purpose in the game.”
Who is the most likely football fan to believe God is control of the game? Protestants of ethnic minority, with 45 percent believing that God plays a role. This group is also the most likely to attend church on Sunday and watch a football game.
Among other Christian groups, the number who believe God has a hand in deciding the outcome of sports events was slightly lower, with 32 percent of evangelical Protestants and 31 percent of Catholic supporting this idea. Only about ten percent of Christian Non-Denominations subscribe to this idea.
The polled group was not extremely large, with just 1,000 people being polled by telephone. The survey also looked at attitudes to sports and domestic violence as well as gay and lesbian athletes in professional sport. Thirty-three percent believe that those have been convicted of domestic violence should be banned from the NFL (goodbye Ray Rice). A majority (59 percent) said a conviction should result in a temporary suspension, but 8 percent said it should result in no action at all.
The survey also tackled the ideas of gay and lesbian players in sports. A majority of Americans (56 percent) say gay and lesbian athletes face a lot of discrimination in sport. Protestant Christians are less likely to believe that gay and lesbian athletes face discrimination, according to the study.
Most Americans, however, support the signing of a gay or lesbian player at 73 percent. Only nineteen percent would not support such a decision.
So, if you are one of the thirty-three percent that pray for your team to win the Super Bowl, you aren’t alone.
What do you think, readers? Does God control who wins the Super Bowl?
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