- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sunday is often associated with church - and time devoted to spectator sports. Now there’s an intersection of the two: 53 percent of Americans and 56 percent of sports fans say “that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success on the playing field.” So says a new survey gauging public sentiment about sports and religion conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service.

Two-thirds of Catholics (65 percent) and minority Protestants (68 percent) agree with the idea, along with 60 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 49 percent of white mainline Protestants, the poll found. Four-in-10 of the respondents overall disagree.

At the same time, roughly one-quarter of Americans and fans alike say that “God plays a role in determining which team wins a game,” the poll noted.

“Minority Protestants (45 percent) are more likely than any other religious group to believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event. More than 3-in-10 white evangelical Protestants (32 percent) and Catholics (31 percent) believe that God plays a role. Only about 1-in-5 (19 percent) white mainline Protestants and 9 percent of the religiously unaffiliated believe God has a hand in the outcome of sporting events,” the poll stated.

And what about that proverbial day of rest?

“On any given Sunday, 25 percent of Americans say they are more likely to be in church than watching football, while 18 percent say the opposite - that they are more likely to watching football than to be in church. One-quarter of Americans say that on any given Sunday they are likely to be doing both, while 32 percent say are not likely to be doing either,” the poll stated.

The wide ranging survey of 1,012 U.S. adults - which also addressed domestic violence among players and discrimination - was conducted Jan. 14-18.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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