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Have a little faith: Survey shows football fans see supernatural forces at play

New survey from Public Religion Research Institute shows half of fans see supernatural forces at play in sports


Was it skill that got the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl, or did their fans just pray harder? 

Fans have plenty of faith when it comes to sports, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). In fact, half of fans see supernatural forces at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events.

"Anyone who knows a sports fan has probably heard of some crazy ritual that they’re doing to help their team win but there’s been surprisingly little scientific research on it," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. "We decided to ask Americans both what rituals they did and whether they thought there was the supernatural was in any way at play in the outcome of sporting events."

The survey showed football fans are a highly spiritual bunch. Of the 1,011 surveyed, 55 percent of football fans said they believe in some type of supernatural forces at play in sports. Another 33 percent pray for God to help their team. One-fourth of football fans perform a pre-game or game-time ritual and 31 percent believe their team has been cursed.

"While most of the fans who said they had some rituals were about wearing jerseys and more mundane things,  there were some other that were quite specific," said Jones. "One fan, for example, told us that he puts on his dirty underwear on top of his pants, then puts on his jersey."

It's unclear if that particular ritual resulted in a win.

Watch the full interview with Dr. Jones in the video above.