Half of American fans say God and 'supernatural' forces are in play during sports events

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So do you say a little prayer during a pivotal play or wear lucky socks during a big game? You are not alone.

“Just ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, 50 percent of sports fans see some aspect of the supernatural at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events,” reports a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan, non-profit group based in the nation’s capital.

A fervent 26 percent of the respondents say they have prayed that “for God to help their team”, while an equal number have entertained the notion that their team was “cursed.”

The gridiron tends to bring out this behavior.

“Football fans are also more likely than other fans to say they pray for their team (33 percent ), perform pre-game or game-time rituals (25 percent), or to believe that their team has been cursed (31 percent).

White evangelical Protestants (38 percent), white mainline Protestant (33 percent) and minority Protestant (29 percent) sports fans are considerably more likely than Catholic (21 percent) or religiously unaffiliated (15 percent) fans to say they have prayed for their team, the survey found.

Twenty one percent have either a special ritual or a lucky item of clothing they associated with a big game. Another 22 percent say that God “plays a role in which team wins a sporting event.”

And interesting: 48 percent agree that “God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success.” Forty seven percent disagreed with this idea, however.

“More than 6-in-10 white evangelical Protestants (62 percent) and minority Protestants (65 percent) believe that God rewards athletes. Half of Catholics, 44 percent of white mainline Protestants and only 22 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe that God rewards athletes who have faith,” the pollster says.

The survey of 1,011 adults was conducted Jan. 8-12.

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