Sports Superstitions and Rituals

Superstitions and rituals in sport can range from the wild and wacky, drinking your own urine, to wearing your cap inside-out.

Superstitions and rituals in sport are used for a variety of things:

  • To maintain focus
  • To prevent excessive anxiety
  • To threaten the other team
  • Coping with high-stress, high-anxiety situations
  • To maintain similarity
  • Teammate bonding
  • To satisfy cultural beliefs
  • Or simply to maintain personal or team beliefs and traditions

Nearly everyone in sports, the fans right down to the athletes, have some sort of superstitions and rituals.  Though some are more famous or bazaar than others…

Top Sports Superstitions and Rituals

Tiger Woods

Nearly every Sunday for the last 16 years you could tune into the television and see that familiar site of Tiger in his red shirt.  Tiger Woods started wearing red in the final rounds because his mother told him so.  She believed that as a Capricorn Tiger’s “power” is at his best when wearing red.  Red is also the colour of Stanford University, the institution he attended.

The Rally Cap (Baseball)

A rally cap is the act of wearing a cap inside-out.  This is done both by fans and athletes as an attempt to will the team into a come-from-behind rally.  The superstition behind the rally cap is that one has to sacrifice their dignity in exchange for luck.  By using a cap with the teams logo the luck is transferred to that particular team.

Michael Jordan

During every game of his NBA career Michael Jordan would only play if he had his University of North Carolina basketball shorts.  He would wear them underneath his NBA shorts, subsequently starting a trend of wearing longer basketball shorts.  This superstition was made famous in the movie Space Jam when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck had to go into MJ’s house to find his shorts.

Jason Terry

Jason Terry has been a relatively successful bench player in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and, currently, the Dallas Mavericks.  Terry likes to contribute a lot of his success and his team’s success to his particular superstition. The night before every game Terry will sleep in a game-used pair of basketball shorts from the opposing team.

Stepping on the Line

This is a superstition that crosses nearly all sports.  If you step on a line it will bring bad luck to the individual who committed the act.

    • In baseball, everyone avoids touch the foul lines.  Some players even go as far as jumping over the foul lines as a precaution to absolutely not touch the lines.
    • In tennis, the players will avoid touching lines during rest breaks and change overs.
    • In soccer, during a throw-in the player will avoid touching the boundary lines.  The same applies when making substitutions.
    • Etc…


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