Michael Scott once said, "I'm not superstitious. But I am a little stitious." As a person both blessed and cursed by a slight case of OCD, I have to be very careful about ritual and superstition on game day.
With my Premier League team, Chelsea, I already have rituals that involve my choice of jersey, the wearing of seven different bracelets (in the right order) and a particular pair of socks and shoes on game days. In my rational mind, I don’t really believe it as anything to do with how the team performs. That said, I would be a nervous wreck if I forgot one of the steps prior to the game.
So far, with NSC, I’ve managed to be able to keep my superstitions down to a minimum. Not to go into too much detail, but it simply involves the choice of jersey I wear to the game (or to the bar to watch the game). I’m terrified that over time, I’ll pick up more and more clothing or action steps that will be required before every game, but I’m fighting it. Again, performing the rituals gives me a sense of comfort and control but, as they add up, they begin taking up a lot of time and energy.
I know I’m not alone in this. Sports fans in general are prone toward superstition and ritual; soccer fans, in my experience, are even more so. I cast a net this week and asked a number of fellow NSC fans if they had any superstitions or rituals they followed prior to games.
Only a few of the results of these conversations were surprising.
1) Rituals involving clothing. This is clearly the most common variety of ritual or superstition. Logan Elliott, for example, is most concerned about his scarf: “If I go to the game without a scarf it feels like bad mojo. Funny thing is I'm not really knowingly superstitious- I definitely don't believe in it, but the things we do anyway- on the off chance that were wrong and the scarf has some sort of causal relationship to balls going into nets- are pretty inexplicable.”
Steve and Andrea Kraft will only wear Gold to away games and never at home. In addition, Andrea wears a blue wedding ring on NSC game days, plus she is always careful to make sure she has her scarf: “We forgot them at home once, we lost Reed that night.”
For Valair Shabilla, it is the combination of a Roadies scarf and an NSC hat that brings the magic.
Travis Poole owns a number of jerseys but only one specific jersey goes to the games (coupled with a navy blue bandana). The bandana, he reports, has only witnessed one loss. (Kevin Brown has a bandana ritual as well).
JD Smith has an interesting calculus for his clothing. He wears a shirt, hat, scarves and warpaint design to a game. If the team wins, he uses the same clothing to the next game. If we lose, he changes a few things. A draw, however, and the whole collection has to change.
2) Rituals involving place. Here, it’s all about where one is during the game that counts.
Erik O’Reilly says that he sits “in the same seat every game. Either I’m in the stands in my season ticket seat or I am in the same spot on my couch. I won’t stand once the game starts until the final whistle blows.”
Marcus Whitney reports that he joins the supporters section around the 75th minute of each game.
3) Rituals that involve other people’s money. Now, this is a category I’m familiar with from being friends with David Bone. In my first couple of seasons watching Chelsea with Bone, I noticed that he created a lot of rituals that involved me, or someone else, buying him a drink to bring good luck. So, it was with great delight that Jason Moles told me that Zach Durbin buys him a beer before every game and that they have a toast before kickoff. “For whatever reason,” Moles says, Durbin “has to buy the beer.” Luck is weird, isn’t it?
4) Rituals that involve kissing, restrooms and hats. My favorite response came from Abel Acosta who reports that he and his wife give each other a kiss prior to going into the stadium. Once there, he has to go to the restroom to urinate “to get the bad mojo out.” Then, right before kickoff, he adjusts his hat “just so” to signify it’s game time.
Almost every person I talked to made sure to note that they “really don’t believe in that stuff” and yet, each one, also noted that they continued to follow those rituals “just in case.”
And that’s the thing, right? Every match has a number of things to celebrate and a number of things to second guess. If we do perform the rituals, we can feel safe that, at least on our end, we did what we could to help. If we don’t follow those rituals, then maybe, just maybe, we were the cause.
I would enjoy hearing any of your own superstitions and rituals. Let me know here or on twitter @NCAMookie.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Speedway Soccer.