Western Nebraska Community College

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Superstitions in sports pretty common

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Although all the athletes who participated in March Madness this year wore different jerseys and attend different schools, there is one thing that nearly all athletes have in common — superstitions.

From basketball to volleyball, baseball to hockey, football to swimming, the majority of athletes both male and female have certain superstitions, beliefs, rituals, whatever they want to call them in order to help their performance be at peak level.

Why superstitions? What brought them into the world of sports? One reason may be to help an athlete deal with the stress and anxiety that comes from competing. An important game can cause an athlete to not perform at their peak level because of the anxiety that the game can create. If an athlete has a superstition or a ritual that they do before a game, it can help ease that anxiety. The athlete obviously believes that they play better because of the superstition or ritual, so if they execute it, then it can ease their stress.

Another reason an athlete may believe that superstitions help them perform better could be the placebo effect. Just like sugar pills can help patients feel better because they think they are taking something that helps them, athletes may play better because they are doing something they believe will help them play better. It is a psychological game. If an athlete forgets to wear their lucky socks or forgets to eat a certain food before a game, their whole psychological approach could be messed up and effect their play. So they actually have a belief that what they do has a positive effect on them, just like sugar pills.

The most important reason athletes may have superstitions is because they are fun! Sports wouldn’t be the same without them. Anything could be considered a superstition or a ritual. The type of breakfast you eat on game day, wearing your favorite underwear, tying your shoes a certain way, how you do your hair, the color of nail polish you wear, the type of Gatorade you drink during the event, growing out facial hair, listening to the same pre-game song, anything can work and it is personal to the individual athlete. Aside from the stress and anxiety that sports can bring, it is important to have some fun because that is what athletics is all about.

Although there is not much scientific research that proves superstitions actually help an athlete perform better, the practice of being superstitious still lives on in many athletes regardless of no proof. If an athlete believes that their beard is helping them get better and play their best, that is all the proof they need.

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Western Nebraska Community College
Superstitions in sports pretty common