Monday, April 20, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

More than 100 million people will watch the Super Bowl on TV, with another 78,000 packing MetLife Stadium, but will there be another set of eyes looking down on the Meadowlands? Could an Almighty fan be preparing to pull up a lounge chair a week from Sunday, take in the game and orchestrate the outcome?

More than 20 percent of Americans believe God has a say in who wins sporting events, according to a survey conducted this month by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Religion and sports, especially football, are deeply connected in American culture. Fans pray for victories, and many believe that players who pray are more likely to win. According to the institute’s poll, 48 percent of Americans believe athletes of faith are rewarded with good health and success. That number jumps to 62 and 65 percent when asking white evangelical Protestants and minority Protestants, respectively.

So are the truly faithful rewarded with success on the field?

“It’s one of those tricky questions,” said former quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner, a devout Christian. “I believe God has your best interest in mind. How that correlates to winning and losing football games, I’m not fully sure.”

Warner won and lost a Super Bowl in his 12-year NFL career, during which he played for the Rams, Giants and Cardinals.

“Do I believe that as a son of God that my life is important to him? No question about it,” said Warner who was named Most Valuable Player when he led the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl title in 2000. “Where do we draw that line between what’s important to him and what’s not? I believe it’s all important to him. But I don’t know how exactly that fits into winning and losing per se.”

We put the question to some members of the clergy: Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

“No,” said Rabbi Arthur Weiner of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus Congregation Beth Tikvah in New Jersey. “And it’s not a question of God (having) bigger things on his plate. We live in a world where we have a religious understanding that God cares about everything, but the truth is we don’t believe that this is the kind of thing God needs to or should be getting involved with.

“The world plays out the way it does to its own laws and logic, so when you’re praying for your team to win, you’re praying for the way the world operates to be upset for your own rather small and limited personal need.”

The Rev. George McGovern of Oradell, N.J., an interdenominational Christian minister who is team chaplain for the Giants and Yankees, agrees.

“I don’t think so,” he said when posed the same question. “I hate to be his spokesman because he might care. I don’t know. He hasn’t revealed that to me. He might be a secret fan of one of the teams. . . .

“My thought is God is not nearly as concerned with the performance or the play on the field, as he is the hearts of the guys who are performing or playing on the field. What are their motives, effort, character, are they men of integrity? That kind of stuff is much more important to God than the scoreboard.”

But the effort that affects the scoreboard creates a gray area for some.

“My gut would say I don’t think so,” said the Rev. Warren Hall, director of campus ministry at Seton Hall University. “I do think what goes into it is what is the effort on behalf of who was playing. I think that is more so what makes an outcome happen. So if, therefore, you want to say that effort was a strength given to a team by God, then we’d say well, yeah, God was part of that outcome.”

Hall pointed out that people should remember that winning isn’t the only reward. Good can come from apparently negative circumstances. Losing can have its merits.

“Maybe I don’t know what that benefit is just yet, maybe it’s going to strengthen my character or maybe it’s going to motivate me to be better,” said Hall, who is teaching a course at Seton Hall on sports and spirituality. “I think we have to look a little more deeply.”

Most sports fans don’t think past wins and losses and some are uncomfortable with a player’s public profession of faith, Hall said. At the same time, the truly faithful can be disappointed by their teammates who don’t follow the life they proclaim.

“People are always watching,” said Warner. “People always want to see if what you say is backed up by how you live, especially when it comes to faith. . . . I guess that’s what disappointed me the most, when you say one thing and then you saw a completely different kind of living. Nobody is perfect. We all misrepresent our faith at times or even numerous times but to say something very forthright and act outright contradictory, I always thought that would hurt the cause.”

Weiner agrees.

“I am not overly impressed when I see certain people who have not been paragons of virtuous or moral behavior doing some great athletic feat then praising God because it seems very contrived,” he said. “But if it’s an honorable person who’s behaved nicely and played by the rules kicks a field goal or scores a touchdown and at that moment acknowledges his creator, I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

For Christian athletes, there is a natural intersection of sports and religion, McGovern said.

“The sports culture almost puts an athlete or coach in a place where his heart can understand the Gospel because his heart is being shaped by the nature of sport – discipline, teamwork, respect for authority,” he said. “Those are three pillars of the religious life. . . . All the things that go into making an athlete a good athlete and a great athlete are the same ingredients that go into a man living a life of faith.”

McGovern believes the feelings associated with religious faith are particularly intense in the NFL, where the emotion, violence and possibility of serious injury are always so close to the surface. It’s a level of vulnerability that, he said, few others can understand.

“My guess is there are guys who build these skyscrapers and they stand on these girders and they’re 500 feet above the ground, I have a feeling they have some similar moments emotionally where they say, ‘God please keep my balance, God I don’t want to fall,’ ” he said. “When a human being is put in a very risky, dangerous situation, he tends to look up for help. That’s just the way we’re wired.”

McGovern and Warner caution that people not read too much into the fact that faith seems to be announced after a win – it is not often that a losing player begins a post-game interview by thanking God.

“When you thank God, I don’t think it’s necessarily always about ‘Thank you for making me win today’ as much as it is ‘Thank you for the gifts you’ve given me, the place you’ve put me in,'” said Warner. “But that is how people are going to read into it — you win a game or make a play and say, ‘Thank you Jesus.’ (People) think why does Jesus care about him making that great play? I think a Christian or anyone expressing their faith is doing it in a bigger manner than just thank you for letting me make that play.”

Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Residents roll dice for scholarship dollars

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Speaking event set to motivate students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3

 
Pet adoptions popular at home, garden show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate Rush Ranch’s 25th annual open house

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Standalone: Egrets move into Dover Park

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A3, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Jelly Belly to celebrate National Jelly Bean Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Local government to conduct public’s business

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Nonprofits don’t tap into beer garden offer

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: April 18, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: April 18, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Biz Buzz: Watson makes partner at law firm

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Biz Buzz: Visit Vacaville announces tourism dinner

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

Biz Buzz: Retail space sells in Dixon

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Weather for Monday, April 20, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

.

US / World

 
California delta smelt survey turns up only 1 fish

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

Officials: Cooking fire started California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Pill-taking can be less yucky for kids, study review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Empty chairs honor 168 victims of Oklahoma City bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Reagan shooter finds rejection, indifference in future home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Tank named “Beautiful Bulldog” in Iowa contest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Report: Kuwait discovers 4 new oil fields in kingdom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Survivor: Smugglers locked hundreds in hold of capsized boat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 20, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Monday, April 20, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: April 20, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

Randall: When mothers need to pray for themselves

By Sharon Randall | From Page: B8

 
Horoscopes: April 21, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Lambert wins 4, but Luke Bryan take top prize at ACM Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Bobby Brown tells concert goers his ailing daughter is awake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Select winners from the 50th annual ACM Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘Furious 7′ speeds ahead of the competition

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Athletics furious after 4-2 loss and 5 Royals’ ejections

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans questionable for Game 2 vs. Warriors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis more comfortable heading into Game 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Matt Kenseth ends 51-race drought with win at rainy Bristol

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Slumping Giants drop 9th in 10 games, 5-1 to Diamondbacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Djokovic beats Berdych in Monte Carlo Masters final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Sources: Tim Tebow expected to sign with Eagles on Monday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sei Young Kim holes out from fairway to win in Hawaii

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Volvo Ocean Race fleet sets out on 6th leg toward US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Thailand’s Kiradech wins Shenzhen in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
For Boston winner Meb Keflezighi, a year of thanks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Browne wins rain-shortened Greater Gwinnett Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jim Furyk tops Kevin Kisner in playoff to win RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Hamilton wins Bahrain GP ahead of Raikkonen and Rosberg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Toronto GM Masai Ujiri and team fined for expletive

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Can Bryant live up to expectations as next rookie star?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott wins AAU Sullivan Award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Scott Dixon wins Grand Prix of Long Beach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grizzlies never trail, rout Trail Blazers 100-86 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Korver scores 21, Hawks hold off pesky Nets 99-92 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
“Big 3″ lead Cavaliers past Celtics 113-100 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

For Pelicans and Bucks, there were lessons in Game 1 losses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
CP3, Griffin lead Clippers past Spurs 107-92 in opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 20

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

.

Business

Researcher denied flight after tweet poking United security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frances Bayona Lozano

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Dilbert April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C. April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Get Fuzzy April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth April 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

B.C. April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Beetle Bailey April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baldo April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Zits April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
For Better or Worse April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Pickles April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Get Fuzzy April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sally Forth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Crossword April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Cryptoquote April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Word Sleuth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8