Footy, Finals Fever and Faith

Final’s fever is upon us again. This weekend features both the AFL and the National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Finals. There will be fans on both sides of each football code who will be barracking their team wins. Some will go the extra mile and pray for divine intervention. This got me thinking about how much does God, faith, the supernatural, or whatever term you’d like to name it by, play in sport?

An interesting survey was carried out in the US in 2014 by the U.S based Public Religion Research Institute. It showed an interesting comparison between football (i.e. the American one) fans and all other sports fans.

The breakdown of data relating to all other American sports fans goes like this: 50% believe in some type of divine intervention in sporting contests, 26% pray to God to help their team, 25% believe their team is cursed and 21% go through certain pre-game rituals. However, contrast those figures to those of football fans (red) and you’ll note that the statistics are much higher for each of the same categories. It would appear to show that faith and football, at least among Americans, go hand in hand. Now, try as I might, I couldn’t find a similar survey for the Australian context. However, could the same parallels about faith is drawn from the American survey also be equated towards footy fans in Oz? Some people have drawn religious parallels saying the AFL is a religion and the MCG is likened to a cathedral to which the faithful all gather to worship. Draw your own conclusions.

There are other ways we can measure our faith in our footy team. We can look at the teams’ win-loss ratio throughout the season, the lack of injuries to key players, the effectiveness of coaching staff, the club culture, how well the players are playing as a team, the scoring percentage against their various opposition throughout the season. If I went on these measures and more, without sounding too cocky, I could, with confidence, believe my footy team will do well. Pardon me, I’ll rephrase that again; I have faith in my team winning the Grand Final! Carn’ the Tigers! Carn’ the Storm! May your team do well, too.

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