By Bob Smietana
Americans are more likely to go to church on Sundays than watch football. But many like to mix the two, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
One in four Americans say they are more likely to attend church than watch football, while more than one in five (21 percent) say the opposite. One-third (33 percent) say they aren’t likely to be doing either, while 21 percent say they’ll do both.
Researchers found that about six in 10 Americans call themselves sports fan.
The survey of 1,011 Americans also found that half of fans see supernatural forces at work in sports – either praying for their team or believing they’re cursed.
One in four fans (26 percent) will hope for some divine intervention this weekend.
Among fans, white evangelicals (38 percent) are mostly like to pray for their team, followed by a third of white mainline Protestants (33 percent.)
Even some of the so-called “Nones” – those who claim no religion – ask God for a little help on the gridiron.
Researchers found that 15 percent of unaffiliated American fans say they pray for their team.
Other sports fans say they’ve got some kind of ritual they believe helps their team.
“Among this group, several will do a little dance or say a little prayer to help the team along,” says Cathy Grossman of Religion News Service.
Wearing a team jersey is the favorite ritual for sports fans. Other fans are a bit more over the top.
Roughly one-quarter (24 percent) of fans report having a ritual of some kind before or during their team’s game, such as dancing in a circle, sitting in the same seat, or talking to their television, according to PRRI’s report.
Among other findings:
- One in three Midwestern fans (33 percent) believes their team has been cursed.
- About half of fans (48 percent) say God rewards athletes who have faith.
- Just over one in five fans (22 percent) think God decides who wins and loses.
- More than seven in 10 fans (72 percent) plan to watch the Super Bowl.
- Among fans, neither white mainline protestants (15 percent) or white evangelicals (13 percent) care much about the World Cup – as compared to Catholics (42 percent).
The survey of 1,011 Americans was conducted January 8 to 12, 2014.