Much has been written about the loss of productivity in offices around the country immediately following the Super Bowl. Rather than add to the conversation about the big game or the expensive commercials that aired during it, I offer statistics from two recent polls that suggest Americans bring together religion and sports in interesting ways.
- “Nearly 3-in-10 (27 percent) Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sports events” (Public Religion Research Institute, January 2013).
- “Overall, about two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they think pro athletes have more influence in American society today than do professional faith leaders (19%). Others say both (8%) have equal influence or are not sure (10%)” (Barna Group, February 2013).
In Americas Four Gods, Paul Froese and Christopher Bader depict the types of god that characterize American belief in a higher power. They found that 55% believe in an engaged god (31% authoritative and 24% benevolent), 40% in a less engaged god (34% distant and 16% critical), and 5% don’t believe in god (5% atheist). Given the high percentage of people who believe in an engaged god, it isn’t surprising to learn that people who believe in this type of god project god’s engagement into activities that interest them, including sports.
- What, if any, role do you believe god has in determining which team wins sports events?
- Why do you think more than three times as many Americans believe pro athletes have more influence on American society today than do professional faith leaders? Which of these two groups has a greater influence on you?