It's a debate that's raged for a long time in the sports world. Is God really a sports fan? What's the point of infusing religion and references to deities before, during and after sporting events? CNN asked the great question — is it praising God or selling one's goodness?
As someone who feels comfortable expressing his faith, UFC fighter Rich Franklin stepped up to be part of a CNN.com feature. The news site followed Franklin after his fight against Travis Lutter at UFC 83. Franklin defeated a gassed Lutter in the second round.
The chiseled fighter took the ringside microphone and faced the roaring crowd.
"I want to say thanks to God, all praise to him," he said. Then he bowed and folded his hands in prayer as his groggy opponent was led outside the ring.
Was it Franklin's right hand or was it the hand of God that helped him smite his opponent? Ringside viewers may disagree, but God seems to be standing in the corner of a lot of victorious athletes these days.
Franklin says his intent is simple.
"Win or lose, I always thank God for what he's given me," says Franklin, an evangelical Christian.
"There are times when I've been in fights and I felt like I was about to lose and all of a sudden things turned around on me," he says. "My opponent lost his position. I wiggled my way out of a submission. I felt like there was a hand in it."
Author William J. Baker says the God-praising athletes have an ulterior motive.
They are selling their goodness, and their brand of faith, to a captive audience, says Baker, who describes himself as a Christian.
"I don't think it's the right place and it's not the right gesture," says Baker, a former high school quarterback. "It's an athlete using a moment to sell a product, like soap."
The piece also features the very polarizing Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow and past athletes like Michael Chang, A.C. Green and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.