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Turning the Page

Sports are for the superstitious

Published: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 10:48 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 10:50 a.m. CST

Superstitions — some say they’re absurd, but to others, they’re essential. Regardless, superstitions have a home forever in sports.

Wednesday night, my Boston Red Sox won the first game of the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals, but it was almost completely ruined. With the Sox ahead 7-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, I received a phone call from my uncle Mark, who my family affectionately refers to as “Bop”. Mark has called me after every Red Sox win this postseason, which is why when I saw his name come up on my phone, it startled me. The following conversation ensued:

Me: “What are you doing?”

Mark: “What?”

Me: “The game’s not over!”

Mark: “I figured you might be going to bed.”

Me: “Are you kidding? Hang up the phone!”

Mark: “Alright, alright.”

Had I not responded in such a manner, I am convinced we would have lost that game. You might call me cooky or as my girlfriend referred to it “nuts”, but we have had a good thing going. I was not about to mess it up.

Raised on sports and by some pretty crazy sports fans, I picked up some odd traditions in my time. I’ve grown a pretty fantastic beard to mirror the Sox thiese past two months. If we’re winning, I can’t get up except in commercials. Changing seats is out of the question. If the pitcher is going good, don’t talk about it. And you never, ever spill your drink during a game.

These are just a few of the things I have picked up during my quirky sports playing/watching lifetime, and while you may say fans, particularly ones watching on TV, have no impact on the outcome of a game, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Whether or not my actions have affected the outcomes of my teams games or not, it’s no secret that superstitions are as prevalent in sports as uniforms and referees, even for some of the greatest ever.

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player to lace up a pair of Nikes, made a joke in the movie Space Jam about wearing his UNC basketball shorts under his uniform for every game. Only, it wasn’t a joke. After Jordan’s Tar Heels won the NCAA Title in 1982, he never played without them, and Jordan is credited with instituting the practice of players wearing longer shorts. Basketball fans and players alike are forever grateful.

Jason Eugene Terry, aka the JET, has been an NBA player for the past decade, spending time on the Celtics, Hawks and winning an NBA title for the Mavericks. Terry is known for being one of the most superstitious players in the game. The oddest of his quirks involves sleeping in the shorts of the opposing team the night before every game. This has resulted in some long, hectic nights for some unlucky rookie teammates.

A few years ago, one of the oddest superstitions in sports was brought to light — the rally thong. Mired in a big slump, New York Yankees’ first baseman Jason Giambi revealed that when such a slump occurs, he breaks out a pair of gold, glossy underwear. The most disturbing part of this has to be the fact that teammates have, in the past, borrowed said thong to break out of similar slumps. Hey, whatever works, right?

Upon researching superstitions among fans, I have discovered that I am far from along. Plenty of my friends have little quirks that they do during games. These range from the aforementioned “staying in one place” theory to wearing a particular article of clothing. Some even go so far as not watching the game itself, for fear of jinxng the team.

Athletes and fans can share this odd behavior, and whether it works or not, being able to believe that I can change the outcome of a game certainly makes it a lot more fun… sometimes.

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