Thursday, January 16, 2014

Football Magick

In the past I've covered a number of incidents from Africa in which magick was used or thought to have been used to influence soccer matches. Given that belief in magick is widespread in Africa, it's not terribly surprising that a substantial percentage of fans, players, or team owners might try to make use of it in order to increase the odds of victory. More unexpected is a new study that shows even here in the supposedly materialistic United States, half of all American football fans likewise believe supernatural or paranormal forces are at work determining the outcome of games.

Two weeks ahead of the Super Bowl, half of American sports fans say they believe God or a supernatural force is at play in the games they watch, according to a new survey. That percentage includes Americans who pray for God to help their team (26 percent), think their team has been cursed (25 percent) or more generally believe God is involved in determining who wins on the court or in the field (19 percent). Overall, half of Americans fall into one of these groups, according to the survey Public Religion Research Institute released Tuesday.

“As Americans tune in to the Super Bowl this year, fully half of fans — as many as 70 million Americans — believe there may be a twelfth man on the field influencing the outcome,” Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert Jones said in a statement. “Significant numbers of American sports fans believe in invoking assistance from God on behalf of their favorite team, or believe the divine may be playing out its own purpose in the game.” Football fans were the most likely to pray for their own teams to win, with 33 percent saying they ask God to intervene in games, compared to 21 percent of fans of other sports. They were also more likely to think their teams were cursed (31 percent compared to 18 percent) and to take part in rituals before or during games (25 percent to compared to 18 percent).

The reality of professional sports is a harsh one, in which the difference between the best and worst players in any position is tiny at best. The structure of games and matches amplify those differences, such that even a player's passing bad mood can make the difference between a game-winning performance and a dismal one. Such tiny, imperceptible events that make so much difference in the final score primes fans for all sorts of superstitious behavior. On the other hand, I did once try an experiment to see if I could influence football games with magick and the team went from a losing record to a winning streak that lasted for the duration of the spell. So I suppose you never know.

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