Majority of Americans Believe God Rewards Religious Athletes

Posted January 26th, 2015 at 3:13 pm (UTC-4)
11 comments

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) credits God with his team's dramatic come-from-behind win to advance to the Super Bowl, the premiere event in American sports, Jan. 18, 2015 in Seattle. (AP Photo)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) credits God with his team’s dramatic come-from-behind win to advance to the Super Bowl, the premiere event in American sports, Jan. 18, 2015 in Seattle. (AP Photo)

Forty years ago, after a professional American football player threw the game-winning  pass, he  told reporters that before throwing the ball, “I closed my eyes and said a ‘Hail Mary’ [prayer].”

There’s no way to confirm whether a higher being had a hand in the outcome of that game, but it turns out that more than half of Americans do believe that God rewards religious athletes.

A new survey finds that 53 percent of Americans believe God rewards pious athletes with good health and success. However, 45 percent of people surveyed–about four out of every 10–disagreed.

Professional athlete Aaron Rodgers is one of them. The quarterback’s Green Bay Packers football team blew a big lead to lose a critical conference championship game earlier this month.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (12), seen here in the December 1975, says he recited a prayer before throwing the game winning touchdown. (AP)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (12), seen here in the December 1975, says he recited a prayer before throwing the game winning touchdown, which became known in football as a “Hail Mary” pass. (AP)

“I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,” Rodgers said when a fan asked whether he thought God intervenes or plays a role in the outcome of football games. “He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”

It is common for American athletes to thank God for their successes. Rodger’s counterpart on the opposing team, Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson, credited God for his team’s overtime win.

“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,” he said about the come-from-behind win.

Catholics (65%) and Protestants (68%) were the most likely to believe God rewards pious athletes. By contrast, about one out of every three people who say they are religiously unaffiliated believe athletes with faith are rewarded.

“I think God has a hand in the gift of talent in the athletes,” said Betty Mattimore, a Virginia mother whose daughter is an accomplished high school athlete. “The rest is up to them.”

When it comes to winning, about one out of every four Americans–26 percent–believe God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event. The majority of Americans (71%) disagree with that notion.

“I do not believe God directly carries the baseball over the wall or pushes the field goal attempt through the uprights,” said Cleveland, Ohio resident Daune Robinson, who majored in theology and religious studies in college. “I think God put all things in motion but does not intervene in a sporting event.”

Still, as an avid sports fan, Robinson isn’t above asking for a little divine intervention when her team is in a tight spot.

“I have to admit to praying about these things, but I usually just ask for my team/players to be blessed or helped by God’s grace, knowing its a silly request, but it helps me in the moment to feel I’m helping,” she said.

11 responses to “Majority of Americans Believe God Rewards Religious Athletes”

  1. pablo says:

    I consider that God always help and support their sons and daughters ,sport events are not the exception.

    • Glenview Boy says:

      Hey Pablo, apparently god is occasionally asleep at the wheel — What happened to those poor souls who died in the recent plane crash – surely they were praying when their plane nosedived into the ocean.

  2. Ken says:

    This is why I don’t believe in god

  3. Geo3 says:

    I wish God would tear himself away from sports page and make this a more peaceful world, free of war and poverty.

  4. Eric says:

    Napoleon famously said: “God is on the side with the biggest cannons”.

  5. Jacques LUABEYA-TSHITALA LOMBA says:

    THAT IS TRUTH. NO THING COULD BE DONE WITHOUT GOD HELP ENVEN IN SPORT. REMEMBER HOW MNAY GUYS DIED
    JURING COMPETIONS.

  6. George McDowell says:

    Thanks for remind us all how ignorant a majority of Americans are.

    And doesn’t the name “Tim Tebow” prove this couldn’t possibly be true?
    Oh, and the correct answer is “yes,” for those of you without the critical thinking skills to figure it out.

  7. God does not take side in any side, is survivor for the fittest and unforeseen occurrence may give room even for the weak to emerge winner Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verse 11

  8. Glenview Boy says:

    If indeed “53 percent of Americans believe God rewards pious athletes with good health and success,” then at least 53 percent of Americans are veritable imbeciles.

  9. Blake says:

    Note that the survey making this claim is from the “Public Religion Research Institute”, and one could wonder who the participants in this survey are. It all sounds a bit marginal and not representative of Americans as a whole.

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