First: the truth. I am NOT a football fan. I don’t have a favorite team, and am decidedly not interested in who deflated the footballs used by the New England Patriots in their AFC title game.
That said, I was fascinated by the polling numbers published this week by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on religion and football.
The numbers show that over half of Americans believe that God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success on the field! Yup! Over half! And among Catholics in the poll, that number jumps to 65%. This means that players like Tim Tebow and Kurt Warner have somehow … in the minds of Americans … merited God’s special hand on their football, or been saved from an injuring tackle, or perhaps helped in crossing the line for a touchdown.
The numbers also show that roughly one-quarter of Americans believe that God plays some role in determining who wins and who loses! And among Catholics, that percentage rises to 31%! So, if you’re betting on the Super Bowl this year, you probably should consult God before laying down any money!
The same poll showed that all Americans take the allegations of domestic violence by football players seriously, with 29% wanting players convicted of that crime to be banned from the NFL permanently. Another 59% favor at least a temporary suspension.
And the majority of people of all faiths have no problems with teams having players who are LGBT. 79% of Catholics are supportive of teams with LGBT players. That issue is fading fast in almost all circles these days (except, of course, among some of the Catholic hierarchy and some Evangelicals).