Feature

God was the Super Bowl MVP, says America

Maybe this is what Seahawks fans meant about having a "12th man" on their side

Apparently, God is a Seahawks fan. Or at least that's what a lot of people are thinking in the wake of Seattle's blowout 43-8 Super Bowl victory over the favored Broncos, according to a recent survey.

A 52 percent majority thinks supernatural forces have an impact on sporting events, according to a January poll from the Public Religion Research Institute. Moreover, 48 percent think God "rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success," while about one in five think he directly determines the outcome of games.

Football fans, in particular, are more prone to believe in supernatural sports-meddling. And nearly one-third of sports fans believe their team has been cursed at some point — think of Babe Ruth haunting the Red Sox, or a goat-owning barkeep hexing the Cubs.

The connection between sports and religion is nothing new. As The Week's Michael Brendan Dougherty writes, the Super Bowl has developed a quasi-religious significance, becoming a "high holy day, when even the most non-observant find themselves cramming in for the spectacle."

Indeed, the Super Bowl is a sparkling showcase of secular spirituality. But it's also rife with overt religiosity. Athletes routinely praise God when they succeed; a real Super Bowl prop bet asked gamblers to guess whether the MVP winner would thank God first when accepting the award.

So did God really take time out of his busy day to nudge Seattle to victory? Some Seahawks players think he at least helped:

Come to think of it, a plurality of Americans believe God aided Tim Tebow (remember him?), according to a 2012 survey. And Tebow was the Broncos' starting passer until they cut him to make room for Peyton Manning, so maybe God is still sore at the organization.

More likely though, Seattle won simply because they dominated every aspect of the game, while pretty much everyone on the Broncos fell apart under the pressure. Given the Broncos' all-around misery, there's no way they would have won, even had they all prayed a little harder.

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