Superstitions still run rampant in sports

Superstition. It is a tradition as deeply rooted in the fabric of sports culture as lying is in politics.

Whether it’s the pitcher who refuses to shave until his team snaps a losing streak, or the player who avoids stepping on the base path when going onto the field because it’s bad luck, many players hold superstitions as sacred.

And superstitions aren’t limited to those who step onto the field or court to play the game. The fans believe in superstitions almost as much as the players, if not more.

In what may be the most widely known “curse� in the world, fans of the Boston Red Sox until recently believed their team was under “the curse of the Bambino.� Though for the most part the term was used as a tongue-in-cheek joke, there were many who believed the curse to be genuine.

That theory, though, was recently debunked when the Red Sox finally won the World Series after an 86-year drought.

Chicago Cubs fans still think that they are jinxed, having not won a World Series title in 98 years.

The idea was perpetuated in the 2003 playoffs when the Cubs, five outs from their first trip to the World Series in nearly 60 years, had an out robbed from them by Cubs fan Steve Bartman.

The Cubs went on to give up four runs before getting that out back, eight more in those final five outs, and lost the game and subsequently the series as well.

But the man who is widely regarded as the most superstitious person in the history of sports is Wade Boggs.

Among his eccentricities, Boggs used to eat chicken before every game, leave home for the ballpark at exactly 1:17, enter the batting cage at exactly 5:17 and run wind sprints at exactly 7:17.

But of all the curses and all the superstitions in sports, there is none I believe in more whole-heartedly than the announcer’s jinx.
How many times have you seen this happen?

A basketball player steps to the free-throw line and the game commentator says, “Johnson is a 94 percent free throw shooter and has made his last 40 in a row from the charity stripe.�

JINX!

Without fail, Johnson is going to miss the aforementioned free-throw, and the responsibility for that lies squarely on the shoulders of the announcer.

Or how about the no-hitter announcer’s jinx?

Typically, announcers (at least if they’re any good, because they know about the jinx as much as everybody else does) will try to wait until it gets late into the game before they start talking about a pitcher who is throwing a no-hitter.
Almost without fail, once you hear, “And Matt Cain has a no-hitter going into the sixth inning� that no-hitter quickly falls apart like a cheap suit.

Do superstitions in sports translate into success on the field? Who knows? But I suppose if the player thinks it makes him better, perhaps that’s the only thing that matters.

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