Why Do Sports Make Us So Superstitious?

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Well argued, Patrick. But you forget about the real crazy superstitious nuts out there: us.

As ritual-driven as pro athletes are, we the fans are far worse. And unlike the players, we can't claim a need to believe in the physically improbable. We wear the same ratty David Eckstein shirt for weeks or sit in the same seats in our living rooms or dub an otherwise unremarkable fruit as "the lucky grapefruit" because we happened to be holding it when our team did something good. You think it's weird for Wade Boggs to eat chicken before every game? Imagine your next-door neighbor doing the same thing for 162 games.

Just like our earlier discussions about fantasy sports and backup quarterbacks, the impetus for our superstitious ways is a desire to assume even the slightest particle of control over our favorite team's fate. Most fans know that their rituals are ridiculous. It doesn't matter—the point is that superstitions make you feel more involved. Did my eating the last pig in a blanket during Super Bowl XLII (which had gone from the lucky food item to the unlucky food item in a matter of minutes) cause the Eli Manning-to-David Tyree "Helmet Catch" that occurred 10 seconds later? Of course not. But in the moment, it felt like it did. And most of the time, that's enough.

Emma, do you have a rabbit's foot or two handy for your favorite teams?

–Jake

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Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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