The Orion

From Chico State to Candlestick, superstition makes the sports world go 'round

Taylor Maddox

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During his NBA career, Michael Jordan wore his college practice shorts underneath his uniform because he claimed it brought him good luck. Retired NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher ate two chocolate chip cookies before every game — no more, no less. Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Steve Kline never washed his hat. Ever.

Whether it’s conventional, crazy or downright disgusting, superstition plays a critical part in contemporary sports culture.

You may have noticed some of these antics while watching professional sports, whether along the sidelines, on the pitcher’s mound or before free-throw attempts. But superstitious behavior is not just for professionals. College athletes have been glorifying the use of pregame meals, rabbit’s feet and lucky socks just as much as the players in the big leagues.

Courtney HamiltonCourtney Hamilton, a junior on the women’s basketball team, exercises her own unique pregame behavior.

“Personally, I wear the same sports bra for each weekend,” Hamilton said. “I’ll wear a black one for the first game, then a yellow one for the second game.”

While wearing the same clothing for each and every game is a common theme, sometimes superstitions have more to do with what you put in your body than what you put on it.

Kaitlin Coleman, a junior on the women’s cross-country team, makes a point of eating the same meal before a big race.

Coleman2“I always try to eat something that isn’t too strange to me, like spaghetti or another simple pasta dish,” Coleman said. “Eating something totally different the night before a big race really isn’t the best idea.”

So what possible advantage do socks and spaghetti afford an athlete, in terms of improving their overall performance? Hamilton believes that the power of superstition lies in its profound psychological impact.

“I think superstitions and rituals develop from the fact that you want to be consistent, so you follow a routine before games,” Hamilton said. “Maybe you believe you performed better because you wore something or ate a certain meal that particular day. Then it just becomes a habit.”

ashtyn andersonAshtyn Anderson, a freshman on the women’s basketball team, developed a new respect for her rituals after an unfortunate incident helped cement her superstitious faith.

“My makeup has to be the same every time,” Anderson said. “The one time last year that I didn’t do the makeup portion of my ritual, I tore my ACL. With that said, I’m definitely going to be doing all of my rituals this season.”

 

Taylor Maddox can be reached at [email protected]

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From Chico State to Candlestick, superstition makes the sports world go 'round