Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

The Public Religion Research Institute has released the results of its latest survey, one that examines the intersection between sports fandom and supernatural belief. It indicates that a significant minority of Americans think God will decide whether the Seahawks or Broncos win next Sunday.

The news release is here, and the questionnaire here. Some highlights:

  • 22 percent of all surveyed completely or mostly agree that God plays an active role in determining the outcome of sporting events.
  • 48 percent of those surveyed completely or mostly agree that God rewards individual athletes for their faith.
  • 33 percent of football fans have prayed for God to help their team win, compared to 21 percent of fans of other sports who have done the same.

More common than belief in an active deity is a more general superstition about sports.

  • 31 percent of football fans believe their team has been cursed, compared to 18 percent of fans of other sports. This varies geographically. In the Midwest, 33 percent say their team is cursed, but in the Northeast, that number is just 20 percent.
  • 21 percent of sports fans have a ritual that they need to complete before or during a game to help their team win. Of those, 66 percent include wearing a jersey or some other piece of special clothing.

What's interesting is that being superstitious about sports doesn't seem to correlate with being religious. Whereas evangelical protestants are by far the most likely to pray for their team, and "unaffiliated" the least, the percentage of fans who believe in teams being cursed or in game-day superstitions barely varies by religious affiliation.

Comments/complaints/debates about the survey methodology/panentheistic conceptions of God/why He hates the Midwest are welcome below.

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