Poll: 3 in 10 say Deity decides outcome of sports

Poll: 3 in 10 say Deity decides outcome of sports



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SALT LAKE CITY — A new poll shows three-in-10 Americans believe divine intervention plays a role in determining the outcome of sports events.

It also shows a greater number of Americans believe athletes who exercise faith in God are rewarded with good health and success.

According to the January Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 53 percent of respondents agree that God rewards faithful athletes; 42 percent 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, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.


In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play.

–Dr. Robert P. Jones


Americans in the South were most likely to think Divinity has a stake in the outcome of sports. Westerners were least likely to believe that.

By religion, 40 percent of minority Christians and 38 percent of white evangelical Protestants agree that God does play a role in the outcome of a sporting event. That compares to 29 percent of Catholics, 19 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 12 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

The study also showed about half of Americans approve of athletes who express their faith publicly by giving thanks during or after a sporting event, while 45 percent say it doesn't matter, and only 4 percent disapprove.

God Plays a Role in Determining Which Team Wins

All Americans 27%
Minority Christian 40%
White Evangelical 38%
Catholic 29%
White Mainline Protestant 19%
Unaffiliated 12%
South 36%
Midwest 28%
West 15%
Northeast 20%

Those results are similar to those from an October 2012 poll.

USA Today points out that Patrick Willis of the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers, said Tuesday at the team's media day, "Before each game, all week, as I do every day, I pray about 10 prayers a game. And what I always end it with is, Lord, let your will be done today."

The survey of 1,033 adults was conducted in English and Spanish Jan. 16 and Jan. 20. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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Linda Williams

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