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Survey shows sports fans believe higher forces at play when team wins or loses

Published: Friday, Jan. 17 2014 6:10 p.m. MST

A recent survey shows half of sports fans in America believe supernatural powers are at play when their teams compete.

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A recent campaign of beer commercials has fun with superstitious, obnoxious football fans and how their friends tolerate them if it results in their team winning.

But a recent survey shows half of sports fans in America believe supernatural powers are at play when their teams compete and more than one-fourth either pray for their team or believe their team was cursed at some point in time.

"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)," according to the survey by Public Religion Research Institute.

The survey of 1,011 Americans found that 19 percent of sports fans and similar numbers of all Americans (22 percent) believe that God plays a role in determining the outcomes of sporting events. Among fans who believe that God plays a role in determining outcomes, 52 percent say they have prayed to God to help their team.

When broken down by religion, white evangelical Protestants (38 percent) are more likely to say they pray for their team than white mainline Protestants (33 percent), minority Protestants (29 percent), Catholics (21 percent) or religiously unaffiliated (15 percent), the survey said.

"Americans are about evenly divided on the question of whether God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success (48 percent agree, 47 percent disagree)," PRRI reported.

On the question of whether people are in church or watching football, one-quarter of Americans report that they are more likely to be in church, while 21 percent say the opposite, the same share (21 percent) say they are likely to be doing both, while 33 percent say they are not likely to be doing either, the survey said.

Email: mbrown@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @deseretbrown

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