Poll: Quarter of Americans say God influences sporting events
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has regularly thanked God in the Ravens' somewhat improbable run to the Super Bowl.
January 29th, 2013
02:10 PM ET

Poll: Quarter of Americans say God influences sporting events

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) - With millions of Americans set to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, a new survey finds more than a quarter of Americans believe that God "plays a role in determining which team wins" at sports events.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute also found that more than half of Americans believe “God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success.”

“In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics," said institute CEO Robert P. Jones, "significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play."

Asked if they believe God plays a role in who wins, 27% of Americans said yes. Poll results varied among regions and religions: 36% said yes in the South, 28% in the Midwest, 20% in the Northeast and 15% in the West.

Among nonwhite Christians and white evangelicals, 40% and 38% said yes, respectively; 29% of Catholics and 19% of white mainline Protestants also responded that God plays a role.

Jones said these figures reflect many Americans' belief in a very active God.

Minority Christians and white evangelical Christians “have a very personal view of God, a God that is very active in their daily lives and very concerned about the things that matter to them,” Jones said. “So far as sports are one of the things that matter, it stands to reason that God is playing an important role.”

Faith and sports have long gone hand in hand; many athletes regularly thank God after their team wins, and some even write references to Scripture on their game-day gear.

After Kurt Warner’s 1999 Super Bowl victory with the St. Louis Rams, the evangelical Christian used his post-game interview to thank God. “Well, first things first,” Warner told a reporter. “I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above — thank you, Jesus!”

Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers could see the same profession of faith. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will make this Super Bowl his last game in the NFL, has regularly thanked God in the Ravens' somewhat improbable run to the Super Bowl.

After earning a berth in the big game by defeating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, Lewis told reporters, “God doesn't make mistakes. He's never made one mistake. ... God is so amazing.”

“I'll tell anybody. One thing about God's will, you can never see God's will before it happens,” Lewis said after the game. “You can only see at the end of it. For his will to happen this way, I could never ask for anything else.”

In the Public Religion Research Institute poll, 50% said they approved of these types of faithful expressions, while 45% said it doesn’t matter and 4% said they disapproved.

“That is a minuscule number,” Jones said of the people who disapprove. “Even if you look at religious unaffiliated Americans … only 8% said that they disapproved.”

The telephone survey was conducted January 16-20 with a random sample of 1,033 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith • Sports

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Now we know why the Philly Eagles are so bad !!!!

    January 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  2. OOO

    Must be a coincidence that a quarter of Americans like to make a mockery of religious surveys.

    January 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      especially surveys that show how ridiculous americans that believe in fairy tales are.

      January 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • warvet55

      Those 25% are religious freaks. They have no clue who the living God is.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Allan.

      Nobody has any clue as to 'who the living god', or any god is, on account of the complete lack of evidence.

      January 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  3. FUNNY


    January 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    So God is more worried about who wins a football game than in stopping the slaughter of 20 innocent elementary school children? What a joke!

    January 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • sam

      Oh wait, the standard answer is "we removed god from our schools and now look what's happened."

      January 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  5. ¿¿lol

    Evidently those who prayed to God and wagered and won on Lance Armstrong's wins were just the victims of a pre-emptive strike by Satan who took their calls first.

    January 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam


      January 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • TooMuchWin

      Greatest comment ever, I laughed big on this one. If this comment doesn't knock sense into these clowns nothing will.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Satan


      January 30, 2013 at 12:56 am |
  6. Bootyfunk

    are those the same americans that watch football on sundays instead of going to church? lol.

    January 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • kirk1

      god taking sides in a stupid sport, what a joke, it is about as ridiculous as god taking sides in a war.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • niknak

      You mean god was not on our side when we invaded Iraq?
      Man, I guess W did not get that memo.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Gott Mit Uns!

      January 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • kirk1

      Gott ist Liebe.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Where a youngin like you hear that one?

      Old school Prussian propoganda!

      January 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Thusly So

      It was on the belt buckle of every nazi soldier in WWII.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Thusly So

      Not quite. It was on the Buckles of the average cannon fodder grunt soldier.

      Even the Nazi's knew if you told a fool God was on his side, they would murder children and sacrifice their humanity till the bitter end.

      The "educated" monsters had different sayings I won't honor by repeating here.

      January 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  7. truth be told

    All atheists are liars all the time. Decent people everywhere know what atheist remarks are worth.

    January 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

      not any more worth than their hindu soul, filthy desire.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • truth be told

      the trick to having sex with a hamster is to use lots of duct tape so it doesn't explode. And having a tiny johnson like mine.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • God

      You are going to sizzle in the Lake of Fire, truth be told, for you have repeatedly violated the Ninth Commandment!

      January 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      christians hate logic and facts.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • truth be told

      Thanks to all the losers who replied proving that all atheist are indeed liars. Special thanks to the moron that stole my name as if it were a human being. Hey thief do the world a favor – eat a shotgun.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Answer

      The only loser is you.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Wondering

      Seriously, truth be told, you are violating the Ninth Commandment, do unto others, turn the other cheek, let he who is without sin, and many other major Biblical laws. How do you justify that to yourself? God clearly told you not to do what you are doing.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • sam

      tbt is just a violation, period.

      January 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • movingon

      That's just not true. You're lying.

      January 30, 2013 at 12:06 am |
  8. niknak

    Of course, that makes all the sense in the world.
    God does not care to stop Sandy Hook type events, but does have the time to make the ball bounce your team's way.

    How about in Vegas, is god interviening when you fundies gamble?

    January 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    Those teams who pray to Saint Sebastian are sure to win!
    Unless he's busy.
    Then I think the game is won by the team with better players and strategies.

    January 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      any of these gods would be better to pray to:

      Macuilxochitl is the Aztec god of gambling.
      Fortuna is the Roman goddess of luck and fortune.
      Li-Nezha is the Chinese god of gambling.
      Hermes is the Roman god of athletes.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm |


      January 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Bootyfunk

    if god is spending time influencing sporting events instead of making children bullet proof, he is FAIL. but then again, god is a murdered of children anyway. how many babies did god drown in his great flood? the christian god is a worthless monster.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  11. William Demuth

    25 percent of Americans are simpletons

    Shamefull how ignorant we really are.

    I have suspected our "moment in the sun" was over for quite some time, but the glow of what we were made it difficult to be sure.

    Sadly, articles like this make it quite apparent. Our slow downward pace is accelerating!

    I fear nothing can stop it now.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • niknak

      It is what Mark Twain was trying to convey in A Conneticuit Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
      The more science figures out how it all works, and makes our lives better and more confortable, the fundies will just keep going back to their mythical sky fairy and say it was actually it's doing then it was a result of science and progress.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Allan.

      It is sad William. America was democracy's greatest success to date. A nation whose founding fathers based it on secular and humanist values granting religious freedom as long as the 'cuckoo was kept in the clock'.

      January 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    headline could have just read:

    Poll: Quarter of Americans say Sky-Fairy influences sporting events

    January 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • sqeptiq


      January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  13. Thusly so

    Nature is evolution.

    Religion is devolution.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  14. sam

    Humanity, why so dumb?

    January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      because they create the god they want

      January 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  15. Robert

    Even if I believed in God I'd have trouble imagining that he cared about sports.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Depends what kind of God you believed in. If you have a pantheon of hard core gamblers...who knows.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Pete

      Keep in mind that if you did believe in god you would have a much more active imagination that would allow you to believe just about anything.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Yeah

      The cool thing about believing in god is that you can cop out to "magic" to answer anything.

      How did the universe beging? Magic!

      How did the 49ers make it into the Super Bowl? Magic!

      January 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  16. Saraswati

    As far as I can tell 50% of The world population believes shouting at the TV influences sporting events...we were hardly likely to come out looking brilliant as a species on this one.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Answer


      Don't forget all those 'lucky' items. Remember the first time you wore that lucky shirt and your team won? How about that other time you got off your sofa three times in a row and your team scored a goal. And you keep on doing it to repeat the feat?

      Glorious stupidity of the games and gods.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      an old friend used to believe that watching sports made him athletic.

      so, to him, sitting in front of a football game was as athletic as doing a 5 mile run

      January 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady walk into a bar...

      @ sam stone

      A couple of girls I knew thought that they could eat all the potato salad they wanted without getting fat, since it was a "salad".

      January 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Saraswati


      I guess one could argue that with some skill based sports your mirror neurons are getting some practice...but it'd be a stretch.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  17. L'Carpetron Williums

    Religious people: This is why modern humans have a hard time respecting you.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Religious people were put here to give rational people something to laugh at and feel sorry for.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  18. Russ

    God's plan included the only innocent man that ever lived dying on a cross for our sins (Isa.53:10).
    The notion that 'the faithful always win the game' seems to overlook the central dynamic of the Christian faith.

    At the same time, the Bible does clearly state that God is in control of everything (Lam.3:37-38).
    But that starts a conversation (about the problem of evil) much more important than a football game...

    January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      Religious people: This is why modern humans have a hard time respecting you.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i doubt he was innocent.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • niknak

      Well, then which is it Russt?
      Is your god in control and predetermines everything, or is it free will?

      Cause I would like to know since things like Sandy Hook happen and you believers say it was obviously free will which is why god sat on the sidelines holding the clipboard.

      But then you fundies turn around and claim god is in control and it is all accourding to it's plan.

      Seems to me that it is god's will when it is something good, but it is free will when it is something bad.

      Do I have that correctly, Russt?

      January 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Russ

      @ niknak:


      January 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Carl

      "God's plan included the only innocent man that ever lived dying on a cross for our sins (Isa.53:10) [dubious source – discuss]."

      January 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  19. 25% of Americans are too stupid for words!

    Well that explains everything! God was too busy fixing a football game to stop the kindergarten slaughter. He must have had some bets out with the bookies.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Answer

      The power of a bookie over a gambling infantile god.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • God

      Free Will does not apply to sports. It's in the Bible, uh, really.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      bible's definition of free will: worship god or be tortured forever - but the choice is up to you.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Klondike Bob Moosehumper's Sermon on the Mounties!

      Actually, there is absolutely no mention of free will anywhere in the Bible. None. Nada. Bubkis.

      All you can find is quotes where god seems to be giving a choice. However, there are also many quotes supporting determinism. As usual, there is no consistency.

      January 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm |


    January 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.