Over the past four games, the Anaheim Ducks have a 2-2 record. They lost the first two games to a bad team and a marginal team; they then won the next two games against a great team and a marginal team. What's the difference? Me.
As a full-time season ticket holder, I can automatically be penciled in for 30+ games each year. However, for various reasons, I can't make it to all of the games. Life (and my wallet) gets in the way. We decided to opt-out of Wednesday's game and we sold tickets to Friday's victory against the Pens. The Ducks promptly won each of those games, leading Arthur to declare, "Robby is banned from Ponda Center until further notice," an edict of 'good magumbo practice' from the editor in chief.
This got me thinking about superstitions and their role in sports. As a former athlete, I can certainly attest that superstitions are very real to players. As I've transitioned from an avid player of sports to an avid watcher of them, I've found that I'm still just as superstitious as ever.
Players and fans are superstitious for different, but ultimately connected reasons. Like religion, superstitions give people a concrete way to feel like they can control or influence an ultimately unknown and unpredictable universe (or that some control or influence exists). For players, superstitions are the rituals and habits that get the puck to bounce the right way. For fans, superstitions are a way for us to feel we contribute to our team. We all yell and scream at the TV or the players during a game, as if we could have some impact on the outcome. But we know that chanting "Refs suck" won't get us that Hooking call. So we resort to superstition as a way to influence the team's fate, as illogical as that is.
I've got a few rigorous superstitions when it comes to Ducks hockey, including:
- During a non-Friday weekday game, I wear my Reebok Ducks polo to work.
- On Fridays, I wear a Ducks shirt to work. I’ll also wear that shirt to a game that night if I have it, violating my normal policy of wearing only jerseys for games.
- I stand-up BEFORE the Ducks hit the ice at the beginning of each period. I rely on Honda Vision to make sure I don’t miss my cue. The Ducks seem to be going away from playing the siren every time they hit the ice, which has screwed up my timing a few times.
- During the National Anthem, I stare at the painted American flag in the rafters. I don’t look at the flag on-ice.
- After each Ducks victory, I slap the plastic overhang three times on the bottom set of steps before exiting Ponda.
- If the Ducks are in the midst of a winning streak, I’ll continue to wear the same clothes to each game (I will change underwear, which some people consider sacrelige).
That’s how I show my Dedication to the team (see what I did there?). When I played various sports, I had a pre-game ritual that usually involved listening to a particular song, parking in a certain spot, or putting on my uniform in a particular manner and way (when you’re dressing for a water polo game, this is pretty easy to get right).
I can’t convincingly say whether or not any of these things had an impact on how I played or how the team I’m supporting fares. But at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter. It’s all part of the experience of being a fan or being a player. It helps set the mood, and it extends the experience. When I wake up in the morning, and I know the Ducks are playing that night, I put myself in the mood for hockey the minute I hit the shower. It helps me get through the day.
Do you have any superstitions as a fan (or as a player)? What’s the best superstition you’ve ever heard of from either a fan or a player?
And, for the record, I’m going to Sunday’s game against the Preds. Sorry.