"One in four Americans believe ... that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl."
A recently formed cricket team from the Vatican may need some divine intervention as it gets ready to take on more experienced English players at a historic game Saturday.
The Vatican team will play against the British Army chaplains as part of a "Light of Faith" tour at the Kent County Cricket Club, a stone's throw away from Canterbury Cathedral, where it will play again next week against the Church of England's team.
"The match is an occasion for raising funds for solidarity projects, but above all [for promoting] values that draw people together, no matter what their culture or religious creed."
The World Cup, which opens today, "overcomes linguistic, cultural and national barriers," the pope said.
Pope Francis urged athletes to live life the same way they play sports: Don't hog the ball, don't fall back on defense, and make sure to keep it fun.
He also called on policymakers and communities to guarantee all kids have access to sports, education and jobs early on in life, "and I guarantee that there will be no addictions to drugs, alcohol and many other vices."
March Madness: A time when Catholic institutions hit the national spotlight not for their theology programs, but for their basketball teams.
NCR Today: "What now amounts to a virtual blackout on anything but football on Sunday afternoons means the end of that tiny culture ghetto."