TEXAS FAITH: Is it crazy to pray for your team to win the Super Bowl?
Question by Wayne Slater
Two things Americans take seriously are religion and football. With the Super Bowl set for Sunday, here’s a question: Why do so many people pray for their favorite sports team to win? Is it just a ritual? An act of faith? Or a hedge, just in case?
A new survey finds that half of American sports fans say they believe God or a supernatural force is at play in the games they watch. That includes Americans who pray for God to help their team (26 percent), think their team has been cursed (25 percent) or more generally believe God is involved in determining who wins on the court or in the field (19 percent).
So is God the 12th man on the field at kickoff when the Broncos and Seahawks meet in the big game this weekend? The Great Odds Maker in the Sky?
The Public Religion Research Institute finds that football fans are the most likely to pray for their own teams to win. About one-third say they ask God to intervene in games. When it comes to whether God rewards religious athletes with health and success, about half of Americans say yes, about half say no. The belief that God will help religious athletes was most prominent among white evangelicals (62 percent) and non-white Protestants (65 percent). When it comes to the religiously unaffiliated, only about 20 percent feel that way.
So why do so many Americans pray for God to help their team? Or believe that God rewards religious athletes?
Do they really think God works this way? Or like Pascal’s wager, do people figure — hey, I’ve got doubts, but what if it works, what if it’s true? Why not be on the winning side?
We put that question to our Texas Faith Panel and the result was a funny, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining set of answers from some of the smartest people on matters of religion and faith in Texas. It’s not so easy as you might think. Some of the answers might surprise you.
AMY MARTIN, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor Moonlady News Newsletter
“It’s not weird if it works,” to quote the Bud Light commercials. Most spiritual-not-religious, as well as those in indigenous and Eastern religions, eschew the personal God. Instead they hold an understanding of the divine as an emanant energy that can be engaged with, yet not controlled or commanded.
But belief in a micromanaging God who takes sides? Such self-involvement is reflective of our highly narcissistic culture. From God backing your team in games, to providing justification for your country to wage wars — same, same. We’ll do the world, and ourselves, a favor when we mature past that. Knock on wood.