Super Bowl superstition

Did you know that three out of 10 Americans think that God will determine who will win the Super Bowl? … Continued

Did you know that three out of 10 Americans think that God will determine who will win the Super Bowl?

There are also a lot of people who think that’s completely crazy. Right, they say, so how will God choose? Will it be because more fans prayed for one team than the other? Will it be because he just likes one quarterback more than the other? Maybe he wants to dole out good luck. If he has plans for a big earthquake or tsunami in California he might want to give the 49ers a big break out of fairness. Those detractors might also say that God has a lot on his plate these days, what with Syria, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan and now Mali. It’s always something. Why would he want to focus on a football game when people are suffering and dying all over the world?

None of these arguments seem to deter the faithful from believing that God is going to weigh in on Sunday. So what are each team’s true believers going to do to persuade God their team is the one?

In the fabulous new movie, “Silver Linings Playbook,” Robert De Niro plays the Philadelphia Eagles obsessed father of Bradley Cooper. He is so obsessed that he has been banished from the Eagles stadium and watches the game from home, using various good luck charms to ensure victory for his team. He sits in a special chair, holds a special handkerchief and is convinced that having his son watching the game with him will keep the Eagles on top.

Most people don’t think having good luck charms is crazy. Many football players and fans have charms and perform rituals before games. Soldiers in combat have talismans and charms they take into battle with them. Prod even the most hardened anti-spiritualist and you will find some superstition. In fact, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found “that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way,” through prayer, belief in astrology and, yes, finding “spiritual energy in physical objects.”

Even some of our most serious political and military leaders rely on these charms. President Obama carries good luck tokens that supporters have given him over the years. My father, “Buffalo Bill” Quinn began the tradition in the military of carrying coins. During the Korean War he named his 17th Infantry Regiment “The Buffalos” and gave every member a Buffalo nickel which they all carry with them to this day. I wear my Buffalo nickel around my neck at all times.

When my husband and I moved into a new house 30 years ago, his friend , columnist Art Buchwald came over and attached a Mezuzah (a Jewish symbol of good luck) to the front door jam. Several years later, painters (not Jewish) removed it and threw it away. Within weeks our house was broken into three times and once anti-Semitic grafftti was written over our wall. I immediately called Art who rushed over with a new Mezuzah and we haven’t had a problem since. Aside from my Buffalo nickel I wear an evil eye bracelet and a Ganesh (an Indian God – remover of all obstacles) around my neck. One editor at the Post has a set of worry beads on his desk and passes them out to his staffers. (Oh, yes, I always carry worry beads in my purse. I am definitely covered.) My son wears a cross and a St. Christopher’s medal. Millions of people wear or carry crosses and rosary beads, medals, coins, four leaf clovers and images of their gods. People light candles in churches and put notes under stones on Jewish graves and in cracks in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Are all these people crazy?

Before we pass judgment on those who think God will decide who will win the Super Bowl, it’s important that we also examine our own superstitions and beliefs.

I’m one of those who thinks God is a bit overextended to get involved in the Super Bowl. Besides, It’s too controversial. It would be hard not to be mad at him if your team loses, so what’s in it for God?

I will be rooting for the San Francisco 49ers because my whole family lives in San Francisco and it makes them so happy when their team wins. I’m sorry but even though Baltimore is our sister city I just don’t have an emotional connection to the Ravens. I will be watching the game and from time to time I will be clutching my Ganesh.

Just in case. It can’t hurt, can it?

About

Sally Quinn Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith.
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