Some athletes are as famous for their superstitions as they are for their accomplishments. For example, a celebrity basketball player, Michael Jordan, wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his uniform in every single game while leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.
Serena Williams, a fierce tennis player, bounces the ball five times before the first serve and two times before the second. However, they are not the only ones relying on their rabbit’s feet. Sports fans are known for their rituals as well. They stick to them almost religiously in the hope they could influence the outcome of the game.
Read on to find out more about the reasons behind superstitious behavior, as well as some of the weirdest things people are willing to do for their favorite team to win.
The urge to know (and influence) the future
Humans have always gathered and processed information so they could be better prepared for what is to come. We have been developing logical deduction that has enabled us to prosper as well as stay out of danger. However, humans are passionate species, and sometimes we forget ourselves. This is why we pursue superstitious behavior even if we know deep down that it can not influence the situation’s outcome and insists on drinking the same brand of beer or sit in the same spot while watching sports games.
Although objectively irrational, this helps us have an imaginary sense of control over the situation and reduce anxiety. Superstition reflects that imaginary control since we believe that we can appease gods, spirits, or luck by doing certain things in a specific order. Gamblers and passionate sports fans share many similarities in this aspect, so let’s take a look at ten of the most common superstitious beliefs that sports fans demonstrate.
1. Wearing the same clothes
Pieces of clothing are, needless to say, very close to us, and therefore fitting amulets. Many fans wear the same outfit (if not their lucky shirt and pants than the team’s jersey) prior to and while the match is played. Sometimes they even make their family members do the same, even a couple of days before the big game. These rituals are never changed in fear they might disrupt a favorable outcome.
Changing clothes means changing luck, and not always for the worse. Certain people have several lucky shirts, for instance, and go through all of them during a single game. Not surprisingly, these items are rarely (or not at all washed) in order not to “wash away the luck”.
2. Not commenting on the outcome during the match
This is strictly forbidden to all who are watching the game or whom you have met prior to it. Sports fans are afraid they might “jinx” the result by saying anything either about winning or losing out loud.
This is believed to bring about bad luck, and should you ever slip up and break this rule, expect a loud reaction and the blame put on you if the team happens to lose. Even if you have placed a bet on your team and had your betting odds explained to you, there’s no talking about it until the final second.
3. Sitting in the exact same position
By now, you might have concluded that the core of all superstitious behavior is that change is not a good thing. This translates to the sitting arrangements as well, and you should know better than to usurp a usual sports fan’s seat on the night of the big game. Fans who have supported their team for so many years just won’t leave anything to chance.
4. Never missing a game
Whether they are out there on the field or court or at home, missing a game is not an option for hardcore fans. They believe in the support they provide, whether their team can hear it or not.
Missing a game means failing to provide adequate support, i.e., being there and sharing all the good and the bad moments, the anticipation, anxiety, adrenaline, and joy. Fans feel like they have literally let their team down by not being there and will cancel even the most important meetings and events not to feel this way.
5. Staying put when things are going well
If your team is winning, don’t move. Bathroom breaks or trips to the kitchen to get a snack are out of the question. This is why elaborate preparations are made beforehand – the drinks, the food, turning off the phones, and asking the family for a couple of hours of uninterrupted TV time.
However peculiar the behavior, it’s a reflection of true love and passion towards the sport. Fans show a great deal of loyalty to the club they’re rooting for, and, believe it or not, the players on the field know it and appreciate it. Even if it’s superstition, it’s a special kind of love.