On 30 JAN the Public Religion Research Institute released a survey about folks in the US and sports that delivers information from just about every angle that the subject could be examined. Men vs women. Young adults vs older adults. Sports popularity among members of different races. Female coaches of men’s sports vs male coaches. Female sports reporters vs male reporters. Athletes & their extracurricular activities. Youth sports & participation trophies. Plus a lot more!
But of interest to us is folks in the US and supernatural or divine intervention in professional sports. Mostly of interest because of tomorrow’s big game, Super Bowl 50. Of all the professional sports available on television in the US; football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, auto racing, tennis, bowling, etc, football is reported to be the most favorite pro sport to watch. 39% claim football as their favorite sport. However, fewer of the folks that enjoy watching football actually played football in their youth. Folks report having played baseball/softball, basketball or soccer in that order. From year to year, a similar percentage report that they are likely to watch the Super Bowl. This year it came in at 46% and last year it was 43%. However, many more men will likely watch the game than women, 52% vs 40%.
The majority of folks in the US (73%) do not believe that God is involved in the outcome of sports events. But 25% believe that God does intervene. Of all religious groups, white Evangelical Protestants (36%) and non-white Protestants (41%) are the most likely to believe that God determines the outcome of sports events. Far fewer white Protestants & Catholics (both 25%) and the religiously unaffiliated (9%) believe in divine intervention in sports. On the subject of whether God rewards athletes with health and success, folks are closely divided, 49% say yes and 47% say no. It’s interesting when you ask those same folks if God played a part in the 2016 US election. 28% believe that God was a major influence in the election, 13% a minor influence and 55% do not believe that God played any role in the 2016 election. Those election results do vary among various political and religious affiliations.
A majority of US folks (63%) claim a favorite sports team. A small percentage of them (20%) have believed at one time or another that their favorite team was cursed. 28% report that they have prayed for their favorite team. Among men and women, fewer women than men have believed that their favorite team has been cursed (15% vs 24%), but more women than men report having prayed for their favorite team (31% vs 25%).
Some athletes have made a point of making public displays of thanking God during or after sporting events, especially when they score or win. 49% of US folks approve of this, 4% disapprove and 47% don’t care.
The full write up at PRRI has a lot more information about folks in the US and their sports. You can read it on the PRRI website. The main image is the Super Bowl 51 official logo and is used here under fair use. The graphic is one of a few that accompany the survey report on the PRRI website.