The Super Bowl and the Supernatural: Is God a Performance Enhancer?

Article ID: 612914

Released: 27-Jan-2014 6:00 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Baylor University

Newswise — Is God a performance enhancer?

More than 20 percent of Americans seem to think so. A survey conducted in January 2014 by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that many people believe God plays a role in sports, such as, say, the Super Bowl.

That’s troubling theology, says John B. White, Ph.D., assistant professor of practical theology and director of the sports ministry/chaplaincy program at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

“When we pray to win, our prayer for victory is also a prayer for our opponents’ defeat. Net effect: Our prayers are at the expense of others,” White said.

“For the Christian tradition, this is egoism — a vice that grates against the chief virtue of love.”

Whether uttered by a Seahawk fan or a Broncos fan, a prayer for a win amounts to asking God to break the rules of the Super Bowl, which is a contest between two teams. "The contest then becomes less about our preparation and skill and more about who received God’s favor and who did not," White said.

The question of praying for a big win “generates hearty discussions” in his seminary classes, White said.

To interview White, contact Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor’s media communications, at (254) 710-3321 or


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