Why sports fans cling to superstitions
WITCHES WOULD FEEL right at home within the fan base of a sports team, where curses, hexes, and charms abound. As if compelled by magic, superstitious diehards have worn inside-out goodluck hats called rally caps, planted team memorabilia on Mount Everest’s peak, and displayed butchered goats on stadium grounds—all because they believe it’ll help their treasured team win. These rituals don’t influence the outcome of the match, so why do they exist?
Such actions often arise from a place of helplessness, according to Murray State University sports psychologist Daniel Wann. Superstitious practices put fans’ minds at ease because they make them feel as if they have some control over the game. There’s also a bit of peer pressure involved. Studies show that being part of a team’s hype squad offers a sense of belonging and togetherness, which may be behind cheerers’ decisions to take part in unusual routines. Plus, when a team wins a nail-biter, you can’t help but wonder if your rally cap had something to do with it.