One in four Americans believe God decides sports results

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) kneels in prayer with his team mates after Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium.Reuters/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

About one in four Americans believe that the outcome of sporting events is up to God, according to a new survey released just ahead of the start of the Super Bowl next week.

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service showed that 26 per cent of Americans, and 27 per cent of those who describe themselves as sports fans, believe God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event.

The majority of Americans (71 per cent, and 69 per cent of sports fans) disagree, and a quarter of those surveyed also said that they were more likely be watching football that going to church.

However, a majority of Americans (53 per cent) believe God rewards athletes who have a faith by giving them good health and success, and among sports fans this figure is slightly higher (56 per cent).

Protestants from an ethnic minority are the most likely to believe that God determines the outcome of a sports game, with 45 per cent saying that God plays a role.

The same group are also the most likely to both attend church and watch football on a Sunday.

Among other Christian groups the number who believe God has a hand in deciding the outcome of sports events was slightly lower, with 32 per cent of evangelical Protestants and 31 per cent of Catholic supporting this idea.

Only 19 per cent of white mainline Protestants agree, as well as 9 per cent of those who describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated.

The results were collected from telephone interviews with just over 1,000 adult Americans in January.

The survey also looked at attitudes to sports and domestic violence as well as gay and lesbian athletes in professional sport.

One third of Americans believe those who have been convicted of domestic violence should be banned from playing in the NFL.

A majority (59 per cent) said a conviction should result in a temporary suspension, but 8 per cent said it should result in no action at all.

A majority of Americans (56 per cent) say gay and lesbian athletes face a lot of discrimination in sport.

This figure is lower among white evangelical Protestants, of whom 40 per cent think they face a lot of discrimination, 44 per cent think they face a little, and 11 per cent say they face none at all.

About three quarters (73 per cent) say they would support the signing of a gay or lesbian player, although 19 per cent said they would oppose this decision.