Football Feud | Survey Says: Religious Beliefs Are in Football Fans’ Playbooks


A large number of Americans are not considering whether the devil or God are pulling the strings on the win in the upcoming National Football League (NFL) playoffs this weekend. At the same time, some fans will still pray before a game. Others will consistently perform some “game-day rituals” as a means to ensure their favorite team wins.

A survey published January 16, by PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), looks at the crossover between team spirituality and spirit. A large number of Americans, at least 60%, call themselves fans of a certain team. Among them, a number will say a little prayer or do a little dance as a way of helping their team along. Others do the following:

  • Among fans, football fans are more likely to admit to praying for the team they support. Of these fans, 18% – 31% believe that their team has been cursed, 18% to 25% will perform game-time rituals, 21 – 33% pre-game rituals.
  • 26%, this includes at least one in every three football fans, say they will always pray to God when their team is weak or just to help their team. Caucasian (white) evangelicals are most likely to use God with 38% praying more than any other religious group.
  • 25% of sports fans, 31% of football fans have at times felt their teams has been cursed.
  • 21% of sports fans, with one in every four football fans, do special rituals or wear special clothes. 66% of fans will wear a team jersey during a match.

Although the majority of fans agreed that God did not play any role in who wins, Americans cannot seem to agree on whether or not God rewards athletes who are strong believers with good success and health. The numbers are 47% saying no and 48% saying yes.

Football is the most favorite sport in America with 72% of the population saying they are likely to watch the Super Bowl. 39% of Americans are fans of football. This is four times more than the fanbase for other sports such as 7% for soccer, 9% baseball and 10% basketball.

PRRI surveyed more than 1,000 people in English and Spanish. This was done between January 8th and 12th. The survey has been said to have an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


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