Okay. Does anyone else think that praying for a sports team to win is retarded?
Granted, I don't have a high opinion of prayer in general. In life, it's natural to feel afraid or uncertain about the world around you, or to want to do something to bring fortune to you and yours or avert a disaster (say, an incurable disease) that you otherwise have zero control over. The solution to this is to build a strong support network of friends and family who stand with you in thick or thin, and to do all you humanly can to prevent the curveballs life throws us from hurting you too badly (put away some money for a rainy day, take good care of yourself, etc.). The solution is not to sit on your ass and ask a nonexistent magical sky person to do all the work for you. You might as well ask your security blanket or childhood teddy bear to get rid of your problems- because, as James Randi once wrote, that's all a deity is: "a security blanket that children carry into adulthood."
You may say, "Well, I do all that I can, but I supplement that with prayer. God's not just going to give you a million dollars, but he might if you work hard enough." Well then, how do you know the prayer is doing anything? If you're taking care of things on your own, do you really need prayer? Do you think maybe it's just a superstition that you're afraid to shed? Are you really afraid to think that, just maybe, you're capable of tackling the world all by yourself? ;)
Okay, back to sports. Where your favorite sports team is concerned, there's not a lot you can personally do to help them, aside from financially. You can buy tickets and merchandise. At game time, there's even less you can do, unless you count rooting for them. You, personally, can't make someone a better catcher or runner or whatever. But that's okay! For those who can't accept that gracefully, there's always prayer!
Now, even when I was a little Christian in grade school, I never understood how asking God for your team to win worked. I knew that, as a fan of Team X, I and many other fans of Team X might be asking God for Team X to win. But, there were bound to be people asking God for opposing Team Y to win, too. So, supposing God exists and wants to bring happiness to all his followers, what is he supposed to do at that point? Count up votes? What sort of majority is needed, a simple one or two-thirds? If there's a tie, does he make the game end in a draw? What if it's a playoff game, where the game can't end in a draw?
If you pray to God for your team to win, you must believe that God exists, listens to prayers, acts based on those prayers, and has the ability to affect the outcome of the game. But lots of people are praying for Team X and Team Y. Only one team can win- let's say it's Team Y. The praying Team Y fans seem to have been vindicated, but what about the fans who prayed for Team X? What are they to conclude? That God doesn't love them as much as the Team Y fans? WTF?
It's not just sports. There are lots of situations where conflicting prayers are going out to the Almighty. I need go no further than Israel to prove that. That's probably the most fucked-up example of it, too. The Israelis and Palestinians pray to the same god, and you know not all of those prayers are pure. If I were God, I'd be banging my head against a wall by now, realizing that this prayer system just plain sucks. If he goes by majority prayer, it's unfair to the minority prayers. If he says "Fuck it!" and just makes his own decision about how things come out, then praying is completely irrelevant, isn't it?
Back to my initial assertion: prayer for sports, or for anything really, is retarded. Want to give thanks? Thank all the people who've made a difference in your life. Want to get through a tough time? Draw those people around you, stand strong, and do whatever is in your power to combat whatever hardship you're facing. Don't ask God to be there for a loved one in a hard time, be there for them yourself. I mean, what story warms your heart more- that fifty people prayed for an ailing cancer patient, or that fifty people raised money, made cards and gifts, and visited with an ailing cancer patient? People caring about people- that's a beautiful thing. God caring about someone- how can you ever prove it?
Above all, accept that random good and random bad happen in this world, and that you won't always be able to control or do anything about it. That's just how it is. There's no higher power or "plan" that all this falls into. It's just. How. Life. Is.