Saturday, August 30, 2014
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

Clarksburg family rolls with times

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Fresh, fruity, summer and fall Delta pitstops

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1

Saving the Gakuen: A bit of history tucked away in Clarksburg

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Old, new collide in Freeport

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1

Vacaville honors top crossing guards

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
 
 
State lifts Solano moth quarantine

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Gallo subsidiary wins bid for Winterhawk Winery

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B10, 3 Comments | Gallery

Fairfield police log: Aug. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
The Leaven helps reach at-risk kids

By Murray Bass | From Page: B12

No plea as suspect in Suisun slaying appears in court

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A12, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Weather for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B13

.

US / World

Man is guilty of murder after his dogs kill woman

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
California teacher reprimanded for sending tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

N. California officer accused of beating woman

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
California appeals teacher tenure ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Lawmakers pass first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Lawmakers send gun restraining order bill to Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California marijuana grow stole reservation water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Feds critical of California twin tunnel project

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

California mentally ill inmates get special units

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Marathon bombing suspect: Delay trial until 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Border Patrol agent fires at armed militia member

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
1K-pound alligator caught in Alabama sets record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Manatees may lose endangered species status

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Westerners linked to extremist groups in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Rescuers locate 20 of 24 trapped in Nicaragua mine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
At heart of Syria fears, extremists returning home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
.

Opinion

 
Zombies are not for fun

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
Cheers, jeers for the week of Aug. 24-30, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Our irresponsible sister is getting the house and mistreats Mom

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Ex-Myanmar beauty queen accused of stealing crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Chris Brown due back in DC court for plea hearing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Fire destroys house on late author Clancy’s estate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Chelsea Clinton quits as NBC News reporter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Daughter: Joan Rivers is in ‘serious condition

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Hip-hop moves as strong force for Michael Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Cee Lo Green enters no contest plea in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

 
No. 11 Stanford set to open season vs. UC Davis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

After eventful offseason, Northwestern meets Cal Bears in opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
49ers linebacker Aldon Smith suspended by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Prep volleyball: Vacaville Christian falls to D-I power Davis

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
JC women’s soccer: Solano kicks off season with 0-0 draw

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Raiders face decisions at QB heading into opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Palmer opens with a 63 to lead in Boston

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Pernice, Bryant share Champions Tour lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

I.K. Kim increases Portland Classic lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
A’s fall back in AL West, blanked by Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Posey goes 5 for 5 in 6 innings, Giants rout Brewers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Errani’s ‘cottage cheese’ serve tops Venus at Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Tony Stewart back at the track, looking to heal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Florence Virginia Boes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Darrell D. Stevens

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 08/30/14

Real estate transactions for Aug. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2