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The Fixture often finds himself doing a double take when a major sports star invokes the power of the almighty in explaining a victory or incredible turn of events.

Take Charl Schwartzel who, when asked by reporters this week at the International Series Qatar event about what it took for him to play well in blustery conditions, said: “I pray.”

Of course, Schwartzel is not the first sportsman or woman to reference God or mystical powers or prayer when asked to measure his or her relationship with sport.

The great Scottish runner Eric Liddell famously refused to run in an Olympic final because it clashed with the Sabbath. Euan Murray, the Scotland rugby international, also missed the opening Six Nations encounter with France in 2010 because of his Christian beliefs. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, it's when athletes start claiming 'God's plan' as an explanation for why something happens on the sports field that The Fixture has a problem with invoking the Lord's name.

Certainly, there's a degree of comfort in ascribing sporting success or failure to circumstances outwith one's control.

As a lifelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and someone who has had a near-40 year dalliance with the Las Vegas Raiders there are times when you wonder whether there is some other higher power at work when you settle down to watch your team lose again. You ask whether all those times you blasphemed or splatted a particularly noisy bluebottle against the living room window with a rolled up copy of The Herald had some kind of karmic ledger effect that meant victories were debited over the course of a season. I mean how else can you explain a penalty against Moussa Sissoko in the opening seconds of a Champions League final (for the kind of handball that was immediately outlawed by IFAB straight after the game) than some macabre punishment for laughing too lustily when someone trips on a kerbstone?

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Of course, it's all nonsense. All too often, those of the temporal realm believe that God's own selfish interest in what's won the 4.30 at Kempton is greater than whether He – and let's just assume it's a He here – is wrestling with ecumenical matters such as whether he should lay off a little on the pandemics, earthquakes and floods for a couple of years while the earth rights itself following one catastrophe after another.

Instead, the Christian sports star is so self-consumed – so non-Christian in his or her outlook – that they genuinely believe God is somehow drawing up a plan for how their tournament, season or even their entire career is panning out.

Take this utter nonsense from Jeremy Lin, the former New York Knick, who took the NBA by storm at the start of the last decade: “There are so many things that were orchestrated by God, that were put into place to make this perfect storm, that created Linsanity.”

Here we had God, presumably so caught up in his role as Jeremy Lin's personal assistant, that he conjured up a whole set of sporting powers for the point guard and was even good enough to provide a handy, marketable slogan for him to piggyback off. There is little doubt that Lin gave hope to Asian Americans when he first broke on to the NBA scene as the first from that background to play in the big league but any notion that he was on some mission from above was swiftly disabused when a succession of injuries ensured he did not reach the heights that had been expected of him. 

Of course, often 'God's will' is used as a blanket term to explain away all manner of misfortune. In other words, just as the lord giveth He can taketh away but The Fixture prefers to focus on the tangibles.

Gary Player, the nine-time Major winner, called it just about right with his observation about those who called him 'lucky' when he said: “The more I practise, the luckier I get.”

Talent isn't God given as US sprinter Allyson Felix once noted, it's fostered through blood, sweat and tears over many years of work.