As reported by The Religon News Service, nearly 3-in-10 (27 percent) Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sports events, according to the January Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute during the weekend of the National Football League conference championship games. A majority (53 percent) of Americans also agree that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success, compared to 42 percent who disagree.
“In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, PRRI CEO.
Americans in the South are most likely to think God has a stake in the outcome of sports games. More than one-third (36 percent) of Southerners say that God plays a role in who wins, compared to nearly 3-in-10 (28 percent) Americans in the Midwest, 1-in-5 (20 percent) of Americans in the Northeast, and 15 percent of Westerners.
Religious groups also disagree on whether God has a stake in the outcome of sports games, the survey finds. Roughly 4-in-10 minority Christians (40 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (38 percent) say that God plays a role in who wins, compared to fewer than 3-in-10 Catholics (29 percent), fewer than 1-in-5 (19 percent) white mainline Protestants, and approximately 1-in-10 (12 percent) religiously unaffiliated Americans.
Half of Americans say they approve of athletes who express their faith publicly by thanking God during or after a sporting event, while 45 percent say it does not matter, and only 4 percent disapprove, the survey finds. White evangelical Protestants (77 percent) and minority Christians (60 percent) are more likely than white mainline Protestants (47 percent) and Catholics (46 percent) to approve of athletes who express their faith publicly at sporting events. Only 27 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans say they approve of athletes who express their faith publicly at sporting events.
On any given Sunday, more than one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans say they are more likely to be in church, compared to nearly 1-in-5 (17 percent) who say they are more likely to be watching football. Nearly 4-in-10 (36 percent) say they’re more likely to be doing neither, and approximately 1-in-5 (21 percent) say they are more likely to be doing both.
“At a time when nearly every issue divides the country, passion about sports bridges political divisions,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “There are no red states and blue states when it comes to sports. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and more than 7-in-10 Republicans say they are sports fans, and more 7-in-10 of both groups say they are likely to watch the (big game)this year.”