Why do so many athletes feel the holier than thou need to praise God whenever they win?

Over the past two college football seasons, I’ve watched Florida quarterback Tim Tebow praise God after every win and after every individual accolade he was awarded. His Heisman Trophy acceptance speech could have passed for a religious awakening akin to Paul Dano’s wild faith healing in There Will Be Blood.

I think he literally may have mentioned God or Jesus Christ every other word. No Joke.

Tebow is not the lone faith-crazed footballer. ‘I’d just like to thank God’ is almost as common a response after a big win as ‘Hi Mom’ or ‘I’m going to Disney world.’

Some of my favorite players, including Pedro Martinez of the New York Mets and Manny Ramirez of the, well of the No-Wheres, are always pointing to the sky after a strike out or a home run.

Now, I’m not an atheist and I’m not trying to spew blasphemy all over the SPBLargus.  I believe in a higher being, I was christened, confirmed, and spent 15 years attending chapel three days a week in grade school. And I support organizations like Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Champions for Christ. But somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and Austin 3:16, our athletes have gone astray in believing that God helps them win or cares about teams winning. There never was a Tyson 12:24 or a Brady 8:13.

It undercuts perceived meaning behind scripture and religious figures when they are mentioned in post-game news conferences. There weren’t sides picked in the Old or New Testaments with regard to sport. You believed or you didn’t and that’s all that mattered. Now, thanks to moronic sports stars, Jesus and God are on a rotating kiosk of fanship depending on who won.  Sports Center could be decried as indirectly blasphemous for airing these News Conferences. On Sunday, Jesus was a diehard Cowboys fan thanks to that blessed touchdown pass that Tony Romo threw but Monday he wore a Yankees foam thumb and pinstripes when the Bronx Bombers took down the Rays.

Who does he really support? It’s ridiculous and it gets brushed over because ‘oh these guys are such great role models and they care about religion and make sure little Johnny is watching this’ blah blah blah. They’re aren’t good role models in this respect.

God doesn’t support one club over another. Angels In The Outfield, a great 90s sports movie, tried to prove that God loves the Angels but unfortunately there is no team called the California Angels and who really buys Christopher Lloyd as The Angel Gabriel?

The Bottom line is best expressed by one of the greatest athletes of all time. In a January 2009 interview with Esquire Magazine, former Syracuse lacrosse player and Cleveland Brown running back Jim Brown stated what should be the obvious:

“God ain’t got nothing to do with winning a damn football game.”

Thanks Jim. Personally, I’ve got one question for all of these ‘praiseworthy’ athletes.

Does God not exist when you lose?

About tdevane

Tim is a senior at Wesleyan and has worked as a sports writer and editor for the Argus since 2005. An English major with a certificate in International Relations, Tim also blogs for the College media site, www.thecampusword.com. Favorite sports teams include the Minnesota Vikings, the Penn State Nittany Lions, and the Boston Red Sox.
  • Funny but true

    Nice. I totally agree. Keep the religion out of sports for chris-sakes. Next time I pull a 20+ second kegstand, I’m giving a shoutout to my boy JC.

  • Anonymous

    You must be a deist, In definition Picture the world as a Big Clock,God wound the clock and just let it run. In reality God cares about the number of hairs on your head, and cares about the sparrow. The Athletes that thank God usually know Him.(The GOD of the Bible) Who else would they thank? Jim Brown was a Great Football Player but hardly a Theologian.

  • Jayme

    Can I just ask one question?

    Why tell them to keep God out of the football game. I mean if the guys want to praise him…why down them or push the whole “keep religion out of sports”. Football players can dance in the endzone…why not keep dancing out of football. Because thats that players way of celebrating that he did something good. Well the ones who thank God for winning would just like to invite him to their mini-celebration. I am not saying this isn’t a good or bad point. I just want to know why it’s becoming such a problem.

  • Anonymous

    Most athletes praise God for giving them the ability and talent to play professional football. So they aren’t saying God directly affected the outcome of the game. They are thanking God for giving them the ability to play at a high level that helps their team win the game. They believe God blessed them with a powerful and accurate throwing arm, speed, strength, and/or the mental toughness to make it through a game. So it does seem relevant to praise God for a win, if you believe God gave you the raw talent and ability needed to win the game.

  • Debra

    You don’t want God in sports, really?? But you DO want Him there in a tragedy and THEN begin to pray right?? Or for the job you really want or that raise perhaps…interesting. If you were truly a Christian you would understand that God is a part of life, including sports. It’s not about God supporting a winner and not the loser. God is there for us whether it’s a win or a defeat. Athletes like Tim Tebow (UF), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State) and Orion Martin (VA Tech) ARE role models not only because of what they do athletically on the field but off the field. And why, yes, because of their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Why does that make people, even those who call themselves Christians, uncomfortable. These athletes are great examples of excellent character because of their faith. They are highlighted because they are an athlete and what they accomplish as a team. Their faith IS part of it too. You don’t want that type of role model for your child, any child?? You do, but when you see it on the tv screen during a game that bothers you some how. People crave for good examples in life, especially in sports. But then when they see it or hear about it, you criticize it. If a person is a good example due to their faith then why not highlight that as well?? Appreciate those like Tebow, Laurinaitis, and Martin and others you can find on http://www.beyondtheultimate.com

  • The Rambling Taoist

    I agree with you. What I want to know is why athletes don’t praise God when they lose? I’d love to hear something akin to this just once:

    “I’d like to thank God for our humiliating loss today. We stunk up the joint and it’s all to praise him. I don’t always understand his ways, but he must have had a purpose in helping us look like we didn’t know what we were doing. Praise Jesus! Praise Jesus!”

  • a “footballer”

    they’re not thanking God for the win, but for everything that helped their team win. athleticism, strength, endurance, etc.

    win or lose God still loves you.

  • Hmmm


  • Anti- Debra

    how presumptuous of christians to try and “cleanse” and inform non- believers of this man- made idea called god. to honor one figure, who’s existence is mystified at best, is not only selfish and conceited, but also servile; servitude is the one word that can accurately describe religious sects. athletes like tim tebow and the very overrated james laurenitis aspire to fit this religious image because they want to appeal to society, and not just avid athletic followers; for all you know debra, tim tebows heisman acceptance speech could have been written for him. is james laurenitis “better” than anyone else because he feels it necessary to thank an idea? did tim tebow not win back to back heismans because he didn’t pray enough? if he thanked Big Foot, or Nessy, would it have the same effect? he was definitely not “better” than anyone this past season on the field. the fact is, whenever religion poses itself in the world of athletics, and someone as brave as this author inks his opinions, and ultimately facts (because religion is MAN MADE), a religious nut inevitably takes offense as if the nut and god are close pals. christianity, as well as numerous other religious sects (do they even end?) require a praising of the “lord” whoever that may be, and live their lives based on “sacred texts” in a very servile fashion.

  • Jared Gimbel

    As to the “praising God when one loses” debate:

    In Judaism, there is a concept that one is required to bless the Master of the World on the bad as well as the good. The fact that some people are not doing one or the other might, in this regard, be an infraction and distortion of G-d in His real form. (I am certain that other religions would very much approve of this idea).

    In fact, a cantor who mentions the phrase “On good shall Your Name be blessed” is asked to step down for this reason (it implies one should not bless G-d over the bad).

    If this principle is hurt, disbelief results, as proven here aptly.

  • Kate

    I think God cares about everything we do even if it is sports. Does He still love us if we win well of course. I play basketball and I play for the Lord and I believe that He cares a lot about sports. There are teams and people who do praise God win or loss, I know I do. You can’t sit here and go off about athletes you don’t know personally. No one is perfect and they could totally love God. Everyone wrestles with their faith and if sports is huge to you it’s something you want to succeed at and that means winning. Some people struggle when they loose. They can still love God.

  • Longhorn fan

    Just want to point out that Colt McCoy praised God after he was hurt in the first drive of the National Championship game. He said, “I don’t question why things happen. God is in control of my life. I know that I am standing on THE ROCK!” Good example of someone who stayed true to his convictions even in his darkest of days.


    I just want to add a comment to the person who said God is concerned about every hair on your head. In Jesus name thank you for making my husband prematurely bald! Amen!

  • satan

    the devil is actually responsible

  • chester

    thank god for the glourious shit i just took

  • BP

    How can something that doesn’t exist care about anything? Humans are animals, the end.

  • RonMexico

    I prayed and prayed to God that I would win but it never happened so I cheated like crazy, won big and asked for forgivness.

  • Jared Gimbel

    BP, while they may be animals, Homo Sapiens is the one species on earth that controls all other species. Now, it controls all evolution You cannot make that equation between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom so easily. Perhaps a beginning notion of God to you might be…whatever by some measure granted humanity this power.

    RonMexico, there’s a REASON why the names of Olympic cheaters were inscribed on a statue of ZEUS, so that the most powerful of the Greek gods stood by as a forbidding witness to the act, and show that he does not approve.

    Media perceptions of religion are capable of being more evil than religion itself.

  • Ivan

    Christianity is in fact a religion. Knowing God is a relationship. Humans create religions. God is the Creator of All good things and is pure LOVE. Disobedience and Rebellion is what separates us from Him. It’s called Sin. The reason some of this players go on TV and thank God is because they have a relationship with God and when you love God, you praise and thank Him in everything you do, win or lose.

  • CosmicView

    If “god” really cared, (I’m mentioning god as if the whole idea of god were real)
    He would stop this cruel experiment called “the creation of man”,
    end all suffering, and we would all return into non existance and not
    Worry about anything anymore.