I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little-stitious
Michael Jordan’s blue North Carolina shorts underneath his Bulls uniform, Tiger Wood’s red shirts, and Patrick Roy’s mental mind games with his net. These three rituals, while simple in description have a major impact on the performance of those three athletes.
Superstitions seem to pop up everywhere in the world of sports — athletes begin to believe that a particular routine or shirt or underwear actually enhances their performance.
Chip Engelland, assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs said in a email interview that he believes that these superstitions stem from practice or game rituals. After an impressive game, an athlete may think back to what they did before that game. Perhaps they put their left shoe on first, so for the rest of their career they will have no choice but to put that left shoe on first and a life-long superstition is born. Heaven forbid they put the right shoe on first or they wouldn’t be able to perform.
When I was an athlete, I was somewhat superstitious but my superstitions were simple things like having to take the last shot in warm-up both when I played basketball and hockey. At one point I always had to have a matcha green tea Booster juice because I thought it gave me energy. Halfway through the game, I always felt sick and later realized the drink had soymilk and which I had an allergy too so I nixed that one.
When approached with the idea of doing a story on sports superstitions I did what any good journalist would do to learn more: I posted a question on my Facebook status to see if anyone knew of any superstitions athletes had, or even their own. With an overwhelming number of answers, I came to the realization that athletes are crazy. Here are some of the more interesting superstitions I discovered:
Paul Kariya who plays for the St. Louis Blues in the NHL doesn’t go upstairs in his house on game day, or sleep in the same bed as his wife on game night. I guess to make sure he’s fully rested for the game? Maybe his wife snores.
Chris Chelios who used to play for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings wears the same shoulder pads he had in junior hockey. Apparently he has just had to repair them a few hundred times.
Taking it to a more local level, there are even some interesting superstitions that happen right here on our Cougars’ sports teams.
According to the Cougars media guide, Will Young from the Cougars men’s volleyball team dislikes being in rooms with windows or open doors before a game. Now I know what you are thinking, is that even possible? I can’t even try and make sense of this one. Does he have a specific cardboard box he sits in to mentally prepare? If you don’t cut any holes in your cardboard box and you shut the flap when you get in, technically it fits the requirements.
Paige Dean from the women’s volleyball team must dress left to right while preparing for a game. Her teammate Andrea Price enjoys a fresh sandwich before a game. I wonder what constitutes fresh, because lets be honest, deli meat is not always fresh.
Leanne Pfliger from the women’s hockey team has to dress the same way for every game. Hopefully that just means how she puts her equipment on, because if she wears the same thing every game, well here’s hoping she uses a washing machine.
Regardless of what the superstition is, I think for athletes it’s a way to take some of the pressure off themselves. Sport in many instances is an individual thing; if you don’t play well it’s your fault, but if you have your fresh sandwich before the game, perhaps it puts your mind at ease.
Considering that even the greatest of the greats have weird superstitions, it must be essential to the world of sport. Quite frankly I’m not sure how not walking up a flight of stairs in your house can hinder your performance on the ice, but as they say, to each their own.