Friday, August 01, 2008

Superstition in Sports

So many humans are superstitious, and even when know they are behaving irrationally, they still cling to certain beliefs and superstitions and think they can control their luck. I found some interesting information while surfing around the internet concerning superstition in sports and how they effect players and fans alike.

Turk Wendell a former Cubs and Mets reliever use to brush his teeth and chew licorice between every inning to perhaps enhance his taste and performance for each pitch.

Former Red Sox and Yankees’ player Wade Boggs was often referred to as the “Chicken Man” because he ate chicken habitually before every game and would also start wind sprints exactly 16 minutes before each game.

Frank Viola, a three-time MLB all-star and former Cy Young winner had a secret to his success on the mound. He would clean the mound before every inning, kicking up dirt exactly four times. However, if something bad happened, he couldn’t do it in repetition of four’s any more, instead he would try three or five.

Even the most talented of players had their own comforting superstitions. Of course, there was Michael Jordan who religiously wore his North Carolina Tarheel shorts underneath his real game shorts.

Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra gets dressed the same way every day, makes sure to step on each dugout step with both feet, and tugs at his batting gloves and taps his toes during each at-bat.
Do superstitions give athlete a perfomance edge?

Elizabeth Quinn at writes:
Superstition is generally something that is initially developed in hindsight, almost by accident and then required in future events. A superstition arises when an athlete has a particularly good (or bad) performance and then tries to establish "cause and effect" by reviewing the facts of the day. They will notice things like what they ate or wore and they'll notice anything unusual that happened such as getting a haircut, receiving a gift or hearing a certain song. If they have a great performance they attribute their success to that unusual circumstance and attempt to recreate it before every competition.

Perhaps the real value in superstition and ritual is the boost of confidence and the sense of control that they provide an athlete. If you believe that doing a specific action or behavior will make you perform better, then you probably will perform better. This is the foundation of sports psychology. Many athletes use rituals such as
visualization or guided imagery, to recreate a particularly successful race and experience the feelings they had then as though they are happening now. This recall and visualization prepares them both mentally and physically for competition.
So, maybe religion works the same way in people who want to believe that prayers work, or talking to their gods, saints, or when they think that people are praying for them that things will be good in their lives. The beliefs keep them afloat. Psychologically, is this a good thing? For many, maybe it is because some just can't get through life thinking they are on their own. So many do not have the faith in themselves to accomplish even everyday things or to reach their goals on their own accord.

It's also comforting for many people to believe that something greater is in control of their lives, whether it be some invisible omniscient being, or some magical ritual they themselves perform. Human beings are quite inventive with their coping devices they create for themselves.

Though most of you who visit here have given up, or have never had god beliefs, do you still cling to some sort of superstitious thinking?


Sicko said...

Hey Star,

I guess one of the reasons that I still cling to a Higher Power is because like you said I get a sense of comfort knowing that something greater is in control of my life. I've also had experiences that I take to be real of something greater than myself.

But through my deconversion of Christianity I've found out that it's mainly because I'm afraid of dying. The way my thinking is right now is that if everything ends at the grave then life just seems to me to be pointless. It's not worth living in the long run. It's really all for nothing. There's no hope for anybody. We're all doomed and life then becomes meaningless.

What do you think?

Stardust said...

We're all doomed and life then becomes meaningless.

I don't think that is true at all. I look at life from day to day. I am so glad that I was born and get to experience whatever time I have here. I could have died young, I could have died as an infant, I could have been aborted (after all my mother was only 16 when she got pregnant with me). But thank my lucky stars she chose to keep me.

The quote on the front of my blog says “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is Whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”

Meaning, you make your life whatever it is, and leave something behind in the memory of others. I write, paint, record my life in journals for my family and others to remember me by. But it's not AFTER that is what makes life worth living, it's the living in the moment, each and every day.

There is absolutely nothing we can do about dying. Therefore why waste time worrying about it and why waste time searching for something beyond this life. So many people worry about dying and looking for something beyond this life that they forget to live. This life is all we can be certain about while we are here, so why not be happy and make the best of it.

Happiness is a choice, You can choose to be happy or not. Like Groucho Marx said, we have but one day, today...yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet, so we have one day, today and I'm going to be happy in it.

Even when bad things happen, just think this is the roller coaster of life, ups and downs and when we are down the only way we can go is up (with effort and a positive attitude on our part).

So, no life is not pointless at all, it's what we choose to make of it. It's not always easy especially having serious medical conditions, but I choose to live every day. ;)

Stardust said...

cole, why do you call yourself sicko?

Stardust said...

Oh, and cole, love the new website. It's beautiful, and so is your poetry. Keep on writing, and get a collection together and try to get it published or self-publish it as many authors are doing now. I am going to try to self-publish a book of short stories I have been working on.

Cole said...

Hey Star,

Thanks for the compliment on the Blog. I was in a crazy mood at the time I changed my name to sicko. HaHa! I changed it back though.

Thanks for your perspective on all this. I'll difinitely think about what you've said here.

Cole said...


Let me know when you publish those short stories. I'd like to read them.

Stardust said...

cole, glad you changed your name back! We all get in moods, so I understand.

As for the book of short stories, I have segments of a few of them at my writing blog called My Writing Place and the link is in my sidebar if you want to read some of them. I have a few short poems, too. I'm not very good at poetry and they are rather simple. I am better at writing fiction and essays, etc.