Taking a Look at Athletic Superstitions


Samantha Laichtman, Reporter

A superstition is considered as any belief or practice regarded illogical or supernatural by non-practitioners, attributed to fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence, or dread of the unknown by non-practitioners. Believe it or not, there are a good amount of superstitions out there that many sports coaches, players, and fans participate in. A bunch of well known sports figures have developed rituals, habits, and superstitions in the belief that they will be in a better position to win every time.

To start off, tennis player Serena Williams has never worn a different pair of socks during a tournament. You would think wearing a pair of socks more than once would start to feel gross but to Williams, she believes this helps her glory. Another interesting superstition NCAA men’s basketball coach, Jerry Tarkanian does every game is chewing on a wet towel. Tarkanian grew tired of having to go to the water fountain all the time while coaching a game in a hot southern California high school gym, so he wet a towel and chewed on it to keep his mouth from drying out. He has chewed a towel out of superstition since that time, otherwise nothing will feel right.

What would you do if you were in the middle of watching a basketball game and suddenly saw one of your favorite players start to clip his fingernails during the timeouts? Mike Bibby from the Memphis Grizzlies was often seen playing with his fingernails on the bench during games. Eventually he figured out how to utilize nail clippers to speed up the picking and focus himself. It got to the point where every time Bibby sat down on the bench, someone would offer him a pair of nail clippers so he could get on with the other task at hand: dealing with his cuticle problem.

Do you think you would gain strength before an intense game if you had someone slap you as hard as they can across your face? Personally, that would make me want to sit out for the reset of the day. On the other hand, Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson had a unique method of getting pumped up for a game. Henderson would ask to be slapped across the face by a Jaguars assistant trainer as hard as they can. This was before every game or he would believe there would be a chance of loss up at stake. Usually if someone slaps you that hard you would want to do the same as they did to you which has me wondering if this ever caused an issue between Henderson and the trainers, even though he was the one to request the action.

The next time you are at a sports event, look around and try to see if you notice any weird rituals going on. Whether it’s someone throwing objects onto the field before the game, or a coach eating a certain food (or object) during it, strange rituals can be found anywhere. You would be surprised with the amount of athletic superstitions there are all across the world- some of which are probably still not discovered.