Sunday, April 21, 2013

How Silly are Sports Superstitions?

The NHL playoffs will begin next week and fans across the country are excited for the renewal of a wonderful springtime tradition: Playoff beards! Players across the league will grow out their facial hair for the duration of their teams' playoff runs. With that in mind, let's examine playoff beards and some other well-known sports superstitions.

Playoff beards

A more manly beard than many of us could ever grow.

Not stepping on the foul line
Kind of a "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back" situation here. Pitchers Turk Wendell and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez were kings of the exaggerated step over the foul line.

Former big league closer Turk Wendell
Adjustments between pitches

Nomar Garciaparra was extremely irritating to watch because a) he starred for the Red Sox and b) his batter's box routines were maddening. Nomar would readjust his batting gloves after evey single pitch, single-handedly adding about five minutes to any game in which he played.

Free throw routines

NBA headcases and their superstitions. Is it any wonder that Karl Malone and Gilbert Arenas were featured prominently in that video? Egotistical hoopsters taking full advantage of the spotlight.

Eating a full chicken
Wade Boggs was an extremely superstitious player that ate an entire chicken before every game. There's also a dubious urban legend about Boggs drinking 64 beers on a cross-country flight. God, I want to believe that story so badly, but alas...

Unusual clothing choices
Wayne Gretzky tucked just one side of his jersey in, and Michael Jordan actually wore his UNC shorts under his Bulls uniform. Jason Giambi, meanwhile, resorted to a slump-busting thong to help him get out of funks.

Good-luck charms
When I was growing up, I always wore a rubber band around my wrist during baseball games because I thought it was "good luck." Many athletes, both real and fictional, have resorted to way more ridiculous charms to bring them fortune.

A lot of sports fans have their own superstitions--lucky jerseys, sitting in the same spot on the couch, praying, etc. It seems, then, that in terms of such superstitions, our favorite athletes are not all that much different than us.

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