A recent survey conducted by the Public Religion Institute has revealed some interesting figures about American theology when it comes to sports. According to the poll 27% of those surveyed think that God plays a role in determining who wins. An even larger group of 53% of those surveyed believes that God rewards athletes who have faith with health and success.
It is no secret to readers of this blog that I am not a sports fan. I am not anti-sport, I am just not interested. I have no interest in who will win this Sunday’s Super Bowl, but at least I know it’s happening this weekend and I do know who is playing (purely by accident, I admit).
It’s also no secret to my readers that I find it somewhat interesting that people think God cares who wins a sports game or not. As one commentator put it, this is news to Notre Dame fans who lit candles in the Grotto before being stomped by Alabama. Perhaps God is not a Catholic after all. Or perhaps God was busy elsewhere in the world and couldn't make it in time to help out Notre Dame. I have commented on this before in two posts in relation to the Tim Tebow phenomenon, that seems to have faded now which makes me wonder if God no longer is blessing Tebow (See: Jesus Doesn’t Play Football).
My frustration is with the very small view of the world and God that many American Christians hold. They think God has a favorite sports team, only blesses the Christians players, but don’t think about or ask why God is not acting elsewhere in the world. Too often they watch a disaster (natural or human made) in another part of the world and don’t wonder why God hasn't done something to solve the problems of those people. They feel no conflict in worshiping a God who guides the defense of a football team, but doesn't stop a wall of water from wiping out a section of Japan.
Perhaps I am unusual, but I think about the people in Haiti who suffered a devastating earthquake just over two years ago. Many of those people are still suffering and conditions have not improved in any substantial way. And I admit that I find it difficult to believe that God cares more for a sports team than for the Haitian people. I have the same questions many do in the area of theodicy. If God loves us and the world why doesn't he do something to stop the suffering in the world?
But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the 27% who think God takes sides in sporting events and the 53% who think God blesses athletes with faith have got it right. Maybe God is a sports fan and maybe God doesn't care about who suffers elsewhere because he is too busy watching the game.