When the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl two weeks ago, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was quick to give God the glory. “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. His quarterback, Nick Foles, plans to become a pastor. As chaplain for the Houston Rockets, I was amazed that entire teams – the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder – attend chapel. But which of the four major sports – football, baseball, basketball, or hockey – is the most Christian? The answer may surprise you.
Of course, we cannot really say one sport is “Christian” or “non-Christian.” But Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University has analyzed each sport by an interesting matrix. Burge has looked over the Twitter profiles of each athlete in each major league – Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League.
Specifically, Burge analyzed each Twitter account in search of Scripture references. And based on that analysis, it’s not even close. The most Christian sport is baseball.
Burge found that MLB players are the most likely to have Bible verses cited in their bios, with eight percent of the 1,265 accounts having at least one verse.
Next comes the NFL, where about four percent of the players cite Scripture. Coming in third is the NBA, at three percent. And the least Christian league is the NHL, where not a single player cites Scripture in his Twitter account.
Burge speculated as to the reasons for his findings. He attributes the relative strong Christian presence in baseball to demographics. MLB players tend to come from more rural areas and Latino countries, where Christianity is strong.
On the other extreme is hockey, where many players come from non-religious countries in Europe.
What is the most-cited Bible verse? That would be Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Of course, Christians are found in every league, and probably on every team. I suspect this is especially true of the Houston Astros, Houston Texans, and Houston Rockets. And yes, I am from Houston.