Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › 15 of the Weirdest Superstitions in Sports

We like to think of mankind as being logical and intelligent. After all, you don’t see hamsters building rockets to the moon or solving Rubik’s Cubes, now do you? But despite all of the advancements we’ve made as a species, in many ways we’re still just a bunch of cavemen throwing rocks at our own shadows. Take sports superstitions, for example. Despite being played and attended by otherwise rational individuals, sports have spawned hundreds of groundless little rituals that many athletes and fans take as gospel. And why not? After all, who are we to say that one fan’s decision to wear his ‘lucky’ jersey won’t mean the difference between victory and defeat, even if he does so while sitting in his apartment hundreds of miles away from those who are playing? Still, things can start to sound pretty absurd when you learn that—in an effort to curry a little favor with lady luck—sometimes…

1. Fans throw things onto the ice at hockey games

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During the 1952 Stanley Cup playoff, a pair of Red Wings fans threw an octopus onto the ice. The Red Wings won, and ever since then hockey enthusiasts have been lobbing catfish, hunks of beef, plastic rats, and even stranger things out of the stands and directly down into the action, in the hopes of sparking some much needed luck. Of course, none of that luck seems to rub off on the people whose job it is to clean up after the falling fauna, because any day that you need to scrape a rotting octopus off of the ice is one that you’d probably consider to be pretty unfortunate.

  1. Mike Bibby clipped his nails on the bench

We get it; you wouldn’t want your fingernails getting too long if your job involves jostling around a court with nine other guys while passing a basketball back and forth. As such, it’s not all that interesting that Mike Bibby was known to clip his nails while sitting on the bench—except for the fact he did it all the time. Whenever he sat down during a game, someone would hand him pair of nail clippers, and he’d get to work. Did it bring him luck? That’s not for us to say, but at least he was practicing good grooming.

  1. Serena Williams won’t change her socks during tournaments

 

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Given the very physical nature of most sports (sorry bowling), hygiene is generally a must for serious athletes. Of course, there are times when hygiene must needs be neglected in favor of fortune. Take Serena Williams, for example. It has been reported that Serena Williams refuses to change her socks for the duration of any tournaments she competes in. No word as of yet on whether she at least washes them between rounds.

  1. Managers and teammates won’t talk to their pitcher during a no-hitter

Sometimes we think of good luck as being some sort of universal oversight, one that will be noticed and corrected if we draw too much attention to it. In this spirit, it’s fairly standard practice for managers and teammates to avoid communicating in any way with a pitcher who is working on a no-hitter. The hope is that if no one talks about it, the spell won’t be broken. Even radio announcers sometimes get into the spirit of it, and neglect to mention no-hitters while commentating—despite the fact that they’re being paid to do exactly that.

  1. Kevin Rhomberg avoided taking right turns

By all accounts, Kevin Rhomberg had many different compulsions worth mentioning, but his aversion to right turns (as in, when walking he would only turn left) deserves special recognition. Whether it was superstition of just simple neurosis is beyond the scope of this article to answer, but when asked why he preferred to only turn left, he responded that “There are no right turns in baseball.” Oh. Thanks for clearing that one up, Kevin.

  1. Wayne Gretzky put baby powder on his hockey stick

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In many sports, covering your equipment with non-regulation substances is against the rules (think spitballs), but apparently, when the world’s most celebrated hockey player does so, it’s just a harmless quirk. Wayne Gretzky was known to put baby powder on his hockey stick before games, in an effort to ensure that it remained healthy and taken care of, which would be totally rational, if his stick were made out of human skin.

  1. Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina practice shorts underneath his uniform

Considering that he may be the most celebrated athlete of all time, we’re not going to be criticizing the way Michael Jordan did anything in regards to his sport. As such, if he firmly believed that by wearing his college practice shorts underneath his professional basketball uniform, and if he believed it so intently that he literally changed the style of the game as a result (he adopted longer shorts to cover up his practice ones, and soon other players and teams followed), then more power to him.

  1. Fans wear “lucky” clothing

We’re not talking about a jersey or a hat worn to show support for a specific team; we’re talking about wardrobe choices that could be described as slightly more obsessive. Because, the truth is that there are more than a few fans who firmly believe that the outcome of the game is directly tied to them remembering to wear a specific pair of their shoes, or a set of lucky earrings, of a crazy-looking hat, etc. It’s not the most astounding superstition, but it certainly is the most widespread.

  1. Richie Ashburn slept next to his bats

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Speaking of treating sports equipment as though they were human, Richie Ashburn is known to have taken his relationships with his bats to the next level. If a bat was performing particularly well, he would continue to use it. He would then try to keep that bat from mixing with the other bats. To do that, he would often have to take the bat home with him. Obviously, the next logical step would be to bring the bat to bed with him, which he did. Of course, the man ended up in the Hall of Fame, so maybe he was on to something. Just make sure that your significant other is onboard when you begin to cram all of your favorite sports equipment into your apartment space.

  1. NASCAR tries to avoid peanuts, 50-dollar bills, and the color green

When something goes wrong during a NASCAR race, there’s a good chance that people are going to get seriously injured or even killed. So, it only makes sense to analyze every wreck to try to determine what may have caused it. However, when you find a fifty dollar bill in the driver’s pocket, or a few peanut shells amid the wreckage, or the fact that the car was painted green, you might conclude that these coincidences have absolutely nothing to do with the accident. Or, you could decide that 50-dollar bills, peanuts, and green cars are all unlucky, and do your best to keep them out of future races. NASCAR chose the second option.

  1. Sergio Goycochea urinated before penalty kicks

It’s not uncommon for certain individuals to feel the urge to go to the bathroom in anticipation of stressful situations. Sergio Goycochea, a former goalie for the Argentine national football (soccer) team, was known to experience this feeling when facing off against a penalty kick. So, he would ask everyone to wait a few minutes, and then he would head to the bathroom to do his business. Only joking; he actually would just go right there on the field. Why, in the name of heaven, would he do that? Because he did it once before managing to miraculously save a penalty, and it sort of became his lucky charm. Of course, that’s still not an explanation as to why he did it the first time.

  1. Golfer’s retire a ball after getting a birdie

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What does it take to get a birdie in golf? Is it talent? Training? A caddy who knows the difference a sand wedge and a sandwich? No. According to certain golfers, it’s all about the ball. Mostly, in any case, because each golf ball comes loaded with one—and only one—birdie. As such, once one of the golfers in question manages to land a birdie with a specific ball, they retire that ball from play and move on to a new one. Does it work? Of course it does! After all, if you stop using a ball after its first birdie, then it’s obviously not going to be getting a second birdie, now is it?

  1. Players and fans grow beards during the Stanley Cup playoffs

It’s hard to say where this one originated. Some claim that—given the frequency of games played during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs—not shaving was actually just a result of players not having any free time. Since then it has grown into something more. Some players use it as a daily reminder of how important the playoffs are. Others use it as an excuse to look like insane wilderness survivalists. Either way, the superstition has spread even to the fans, who likewise show their support through facial follicle fellowship.

  1. Glenn Hall would throw up before every game

Again, this one seems to have happened by accident. Glenn Hall, a hockey goalie who was so good at his job that he earned the nickname ‘Mr. Goalie,’ was feeling a bit under the weather before an important game. So, he threw up. However, in losing his lunch, he actually gained a clearer head and was able to perform really well. He took that as a sign, and from then on he would make himself vomit before playing. He actually saw it as a way of ‘giving his all.’ We can all be glad that most employers don’t see things the same way.

  1. Jason Giambi and the New York Yankees wear gold thongs to get out of slumps

Slumps are every player’s nightmare, and the longer they go, the harder it is to crawl out of them. Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees found a solution to slumps that he then shared with his teammates, much to the awkward chagrin of everyone involved. You see, underneath his uniform, he wears a sparkly golden thong. Not all the time, of course, just when his bad luck demands it. Other players have adopted the ritual, and have reluctantly agreed that it does seem to help. One explanation is that the uncomfortable thong draws a players focus away from things like stance or hand position, and allows the player’s natural instincts to reassert themselves. OK, that actually makes some sense, but why does it have to be gold?

 

 

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Hey, everybody! My name is Jason, and I contribute to this great blog, but when I'm not posting for ForRent.com, I like to play music with friends, cook, and travel as much as possible.

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