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Sports and Superstition

By: Juggie DaTrini Spence

To be great, is to be good consistently. At least that what’s we’ve always been told as athletes, and quite frankly, we all aspire to be great. Consistency is developed by repetition until a habit is formed and as animals of habit we become more consistent in the things we do in our everyday lives. So in the convergence of these two philosophies athletes develop habits that are associated with performance.

The classic example of habit was given to the world of football by the man known as “Primetime”, Deion Sanders himself, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” Well, in the world of semi-pro football, the saying stops at “play good” because there’s no pay in semi-pro, thats a topic in itself. However, the fact is that habit, ritual or superstition is as much a part of the game as is catching, tackling and scoring. Some players attribute poor performances to not having gone through their pre-game ritual.

Some of these pre-game practices involve some sort of food, like Korey Duff’s fixation with Chinese food, or Shaun Kellman’s fried chicken addiction or even Lahquan Legette’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich preference but Marvin Plaisimond’s Snickers® requirement seems to fit in to the current Mars candy ad campaign but then there’s the opposite where Shawn Spencer won’t eat on game day.

Other guys’ habits include a pre-game workout like Sandz Joseph’s hamstring curl routine or even Flash Nellison’s half mile run. Both of these exceeds what some players do in an entire offseason. This activity drummed up a bit of debate about pre-game sexual activity. Some restrain from it, as in the case of Yves Delva, some swear by it. It’s been examined scientifically and there is no downside because the calories lost could be replaced but there indicates an increase in hormone levels which could actually enhance performance.

And the final category is the ritual practice. There are some who wear high school paraphernalia like Chester Joseph or Wayne Warsaw with a pair of socks from 1986. Its amazing how they were able to hold on to these socks through hundreds of wash cycles. Then there is the infamous but quite prevalent practice of “herbal meditation”. I’m still not sure why players would ‘elevate their minds’ prior to a game but they do and I guess with all rituals, as long as it makes the player feel good, then he plays good and that’s all that matters.


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