October 14, 2015

LEWIS | Sports Rituals And Superstitions

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By SHANE LEWIS

The Chicago Cubs are one step closer to capturing their first World Series title since 1908, after belting the St. Louis Cardinals with home run after home run in the NLDS. Some would say that the series win was due to the Cubs’ nucleus of young talent finally realizing its full potential. I would have to disagree. I would say that the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the NLDS because it was fate. The “Back to the Future II” prophecy tells us that the Cubs will win the World Series this year, and because of this, it is guaranteed to happen. Clearly, I am a huge believer in the relationship between superstition and sports.

Since I was a young kid, I’ve believed that my fandom has played a role in my favorite teams winning games. For example, I have a distinct set of rituals that I follow when rooting for my Packers. First of all, I must be watching their games alone. Absolutely nobody is allowed to talk to me during a Packer’s game. Secondly, I cannot consume any food during a game. I must fast for my lord and savior Aaron Rodgers. Lastly, I cannot be wearing any type of headgear while watching the Packers. The only thing that is allowed to touch my head is the loving grace of Vince Lombardi.

If my team loses, I am a strong believer that it was my fault. Last year during the NFC championship game when the Packers choked away their chance at a Super Bowl berth, I blamed myself for leaving my television screen when they were up double-digits with five minutes left. And what was I leaving the television screen for? To go eat Chinese food — two violations of my fandom rituals were enough to counteract the forces of sports and help the Seahawks win. While this may seem absolutely crazy to other people, I believe that was the reason why the Packers lost. I am completely serious.

I know I’m not the only person that is extremely superstitious when it comes to sports. I know people that wear the same articles of clothing during every game, people that do the same celebration dance after every score and people that eat the same foods during every halftime. I recently heard of this kid in the homeland of Green Bay that has been wearing the same Aaron Rodgers jersey every day for like the past five years. That’s some serious dedication.

As fans, why do we believe so strongly that we can somehow influence the outcome of a game? Clearly, we must know that this is impossible. I think the reason for this is that as fans, we become so connected with our favorite teams that we search for any possible way that we can help them out. Because we cannot interact with our teams physically, we must resort to helping them out spiritually. Rituals and superstitions are our way of finding some kind of connection with a team and really feeling like we are playing a role in its success. It doesn’t make us crazy, it just makes us extremely passionate.

A common question I get regarding my superstitions is about how I explain my team losing, even when I followed all of my rituals correctly? Well, this is a reflection of the whole fan base, my friends. In order for a team to achieve victory, they must have more fans using their superstitious energy than the other team. I am just one cog in a huge machine filled with fans wearing the same Packer socks every Sunday and going to Saturday mass to pray for their team. We all must play a part.

So the next time you’re sitting there thinking, why does Cornell football keep losing by 30 points to schools I’ve never heard of, just think, was it really their fault? Or was there something I could’ve done? I’ll leave that thought with you.

Oh, and when the Cubs win the World Series this year, don’t be surprised. It was meant to happen. Then I can finally take off this blue and red jock strap that I’ve been wearing for the past 20 years.

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