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Editor’s Note: Some may think that there’s nothing religious about the NFL or other competitive sports, but they sure inspire a lot of prayer! If you’re a missionary, especially in the hometown of a major sports franchise, it doesn’t hurt to know a little about the local favorite teams. If you’re an RM who found common ground with an investigator through your favorite team, share your story with us; we’d love to hear it.
…According to the Public Religion Research institute, one in four Americans feel that God plays a hand in determining the winner of any given sports game. And more than half of Americans (56 percent) feel God rewards faithful athletes with success and good health, according to the survey.
“One in four Americans believe there will be a 12th man on the field, and that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl,” Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, told Religion News Service last year.
The PRRI found in 2014 that more than half of sports fans believe supernatural powers impact their teams’ games, and more than a quarter pray for their team to win, according to Deseret News’ own Matthew Brown.
“Football fans are also more likely than other fans to say they pray for their team (33 percent vs. 21 percent), perform pre-game or game-time rituals (25 percent vs. 18 percent) or to believe that their team has been cursed (31 percent vs. 18 percent),” the survey said.
Some fans have taken it the extra step and asked God or other religious figures for help. For example, fans petitioned earlier this summer for Pope Francis to rub Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford’s injured knee.