I Know Who Will Win the Super Bowl

Call Vegas.  Bet the farm.  We know for sure who will win in this weekend’s Super Bowl.

First a note for readers outside the United States or for those ensconced in thick protective layers of nerd: The Super Bowl is a contest between football teams.  It is typically a hugely popular TV and social event.

The winner this year has been proclaimed in advance.  No matter what happens on the chilly field, the winner will be… Jesus!

Image Source: The Biblical World

Image Source: The Biblical World

That’s right: no matter how the game goes, Americans tell pollsters they believe that Jesus will determine the outcome.  At least according to a recent report from the Public Religion Research Institute, a majority of Americans think that “some type of supernatural forces” will decide who wins the big game on Sunday.  More than a quarter of fans say they pray to God to help their team win.  And roughly a quarter of fans think their team has been cursed at one time or another.

Image Source: Public Religion Research Institute

Image Source: Public Religion Research Institute

Shocking?  Not really.  It seems to be just another piece of evidence that Americans are enormously religious.  And another warning to out-of-touch academics that their understanding of a liberal, secular society is woefully out of step with social realities.


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  1. Had to chuckle at your explanation of the Super Bowl – apparently there were some flight attendants from Norway at the hotel when the Broncos checked in and one commented “They are a team, right??” Another chuckle was the poster that shows the “Super Bowl” as the meeting of teams from the two states that legalized marijuana. More to your point, I am always amazed that so many, including the sky-pointing athletes, believe that God cares enough to play a hand in who wins.

  2. Warren Johnson

     /  January 28, 2014


    Have you ever talked to anyone who has seriously prayed for their sports team? I can’t really envision what kind of person would do that, or what their theology might be.
    Aren’t such prayers sacrilegious from almost every church’s point of view?

    Here in Louisiana I hear our local American Family Radio programs often call for prayer, and later discuss SEC football in detail, but never have I heard the subjects combined.

    • Thanks for the question, Warren. Even in my limited circle of friends and family, I don’t think I can rule out prayers for sports victories. And from an historian’s point of view, I think of the public prayer of Rev. Charles Quigley in the Kanawha County (WV) textbook controversy of 1974-1975. Quigley famously asked area “Christians,” in Quigley’s words, “to pray that God will kill the giants that have mocked and made fun of dumb fundamentalists.” I know that’s not about sports, but I think the notion of imprecatory prayer is still very alive and well in American culture.

  3. It was the meme accompanying your blog post that made me nuts. I hate those cutesy Jesus pictures.

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