The power of superstitions in sporting events

From pre-game rituals to fan habits, superstitions play prominent role in sports

Dakota Meekins, Sports Editor

With sporting events come those die-hard fans and players that always follow a game day ritual. These rituals can form into compulsions, or superstitions. The players follow these routines because they believe that it will bring them luck and increase their chance for success. These routines can range from simply putting one cleat on before the other.

“I fully believe in superstitions and believe that they bring good luck. I believe that if you follow the routines for each sport, it brings luck to the team and helps us win,” sophomore Hayden Scott said.

Fans even have superstitions when it comes to their favorite teams. Die hard fans are also known to follow the same routines and traditions on game day to help their team’s chance of winning.

“Every Friday, I select an outfit to wear for game day to bring the team good luck – same shirt, same necklace and the same spirit bracelets. At home games, I sit in the same spot on the bleachers along with sitting around the same people to make sure everything is the same as [the game] before,” said Liz Brown, who is a math teacher here and mom to two student athletes.

This asks the question, are these superstitions fact or fiction? Do they really help someone or is it all mental?

The “Placebo Effect” is a mental response to a treatment or substance with no therapeutic effect. Essentially, the mind tricks itself into believing that that object is necessary to its improvement. Superstitions can be one such “treatment.”

Those outside of the superstition loop may consider the act to be a placebo; a comforting act or object that eases nerves and stress. Sporting events are often based on skill and luck, both of which are not concrete. For junior Clay Rice, he has a superstition that may seem odd to others.

“On game day, I only eat lunch and I try to not eat that much except for candy,” he said. “I also have an idea of how I’m going to play in the game depending on how I do when we shoot around pre-game.”

Freshman Mikey McCallum fully believes in superstitions and follows through with his consistently. McCallum follows this routine to ensure he is on task and focused in before a football game.

“I always listen to music and tune everything else to get me focused up and get my mind right before the game,” freshman Mikey McCallum said.

At any level of sports, superstitions can be found by fans but also can be found in many professional sports. At the college and professional level, many athletes rely on these superstitions to give them more success. Athletes across all sports have rituals and follow them routinely, no matter how odd they might be to others.

Superstitions may not have a supernatural effect on the player or the team, but these routines increase confidence and the belief that the team will succeed or perform better. Athletic superstitions have not been confirmed to improve scores, but they do improve the spirit and heart of the sport.

“Superstitions are funny, none are 100 percent proven, but it does improve some mental aspects,” football coach Sport Sawyer said. “In sports every day whether it is high school, middle school, recreation, college or professional giving people something to believe in is so important. It’s human nature if you believe in something you gravitate to it and work for it, you see it daily. Believing gives you a mental edge.”