Praying for a Super Bowl win is a Hail Mary

Even as sports fans pray for God’s intervention, we know that it makes no sense to think that the Almighty would care about the results of a game. Still, as shown in a recent poll by the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute, plenty of fans petition for heavenly scoreboard assistance. A survey of 1,011 Americans, taken between Jan. 8 and Jan. 12, found that 26% of sports fans have prayed that God would aid their team.

The poll showed that white evangelical fans (38%) are most likely to seek divine help, followed by a third of white mainline Protestants (33%). Even about 15% of the fans who are “Nones”—those who claim no religion—say they have prayed for their team.

Bob Ryan, a recently retired sports columnist for the Boston Globe, tells me that he understands fans’ prayers. It’s about solace, he says, not results on the field. “I am not surprised when people ask God to put in a good word for the team,” Mr. Ryan says. “As long as they understand it’s a Hail Mary—it may not do any good, but it does bring them some comfort.”

The Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos, a die-hard Seattle Seahawks fan, agrees. God, he says, doesn’t give a “holy rip” who wins, even the Super Bowl. That won’t stop Rev. Asimakoupoulos, a chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community in Mercer Island, Wash., from wearing his vintage number 37 Seahawks jersey under his black clerical robe on Super Bowl Sunday.