By Aaron Earls
Most Americans are not counting on divine help for their team in the big game.
Only one-fourth of Americans say they believe God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events. Nearly 3 in 4 (73 percent) disagree in a PRRI poll.
When asked directly in a Lifeway Research survey last year if God cares who wins the Super Bowl, 88 percent of Americans said no. Fewer than 1 in 10 (8 percent) thought God was concerned about the outcome.
According to PRRI, non-white Protestants (41 percent) and white evangelicals (36 percent) are most likely to say God has a hand in who wins the game.
A quarter of white mainline Protestants and Catholics (25 percent) credit God for the win. Only 9 percent of the unaffiliated see divine handiwork.
Whether they believe God acts in a game or not, many sports fans say they’ve prayed for God to help their team win.
Sixty-three percent of Americans consider themselves a fan of a particular sports team. Among fans, 28 percent say they’ve prayed for divine assistance to their team.
Alternatively, 20 percent say they believe their team has been cursed at some point.
Men are more likely than women to believe their team has been cursed (25 percent to 15 percent). Women, on the other hand, are slightly more likely than men to say they’ve prayed for a victory (31 percent to 25 percent).
Americans are more likely to believe God blesses players as individuals, but the country is split. Almost half (49 percent) say God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success. About as many (47 percent) disagree.
Again, non-white Protestants (65 percent) and white evangelicals (62 percent) are most likely to agree, followed closely by white mainline Protestants (59 percent).
Fewer than half of Catholics (48 percent) and relatively few unaffiliated (29 percent) say the same.
But no one seems to mind when athletes thank God. Nearly half (49 percent) say they approve when athletes express their faith by thanking God during or after a sporting event.
Almost as many (47 percent) say it doesn’t matter to them one way or the other. Only 4 percent disapprove of the public religious expression.
White evangelicals (77 percent) are most approving of the display, followed by non-white Protestants (69 percent), Catholics (50 percent), and white mainline Protestants (49 percent).
Only 18 percent of the religiously unaffiliated say they approve of athletes thanking God, but only 4 percent disapprove. Almost 8 in 10 (78 percent) say it doesn’t bother them.
Aaron is a writer for LifewayResearch.com.