There’s a fine line between superstition, obsessive compulsive disorder and routine. Some people seem to blur the lines a little bit more than others. Whether you have a lucky pair of underwear or a favorite t-shirt that fits just right, superstition is common. The ultimate belief or notion that certain consequences or events were caused by unjustifiable forces can certainly sway a person’s judgment, but at some point, the superstition gets a little out of control.
Whether it be sleeping with your bat the night before a big game or wearing a gold thong to help your batting average, there is always that one thing that is exempt from any reasonable justification. But, superstitions and rituals are often deeply invested in the team’s history or even an individual’s identity as a reflection of the biggest losses and wins of recent times. It’s not surprising for fans to be compelled by ancient superstitions but these 10 bizarre sports rituals leave no doubt that the game is 90% mental, if not more.
10. The Legend of the Octopus
At most major sporting events, tossing an object onto the field of play is usually the consequence of a poor officiating call or a poor performance. Detroit Red Wings’ fans think otherwise. The history of “The Legend of the Octopus” reportedly dates back to the 1952 playoffs when teams needed 8 wins to secure the Stanley Cup and a Red Wings’ fan tossed an octopus onto the ice as a symbol of the road to success. According to Bleacher Report, this bizarre superstition worked, Detroit won the Stanley Cup and the ice crew at Joe Louis Arena are still cursing “The Legend of the Octopus.”
9. No Sex or Beef
With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in full swing, most of the world has soccer fever. It is the most watched sporting event in the world so its understandable that people can get a little bit crazy when the month-long tournament rolls around every 4 years. However, the Mexican team manager may have a bit more World Cup crazy than most. Miguel Herrera has imposed a code of abstinence for his 23-man squad, however, they are not officially banned from sexual relations. Brazil’s Luis Filipe Solari has also reportedly told his players that they can engage in “normal sex” but nothing crazy. The beef ban has been imposed strictly on the Mexican squad because of an issue at the 2011 Gold Cup in which five team members tested positive for a drug called clenbuterol.
8. Jason Terry And His Opponent’s Uniform
Jason Terry was drafted out of the University of Arizona by the Atlanta Hawks in 1999 NBA Draft. Since that time, he has played for the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and, his current home, the Sacramento Kings. Terry has been an NCAA and an NBA Champion and may be able to credit that to a little pre-game ritual he has carried around with him since his days at the University of Arizona. Terry, and an Arizona teammate of his first, starting wearing their opponent’s uniform to bed the night before a game.
7. Eating Grass
LSU head football coach Les Miles is considered quite the charismatic personality, and that’s prior to discovering his unique pre-game ritual. According to Miles, he likes to eat grass from the stadium the Tigers are playing in as some sign of respect that he is “part of the field and part of the game.” The LSU Tigers went 10-3 during the 2013 regular season so maybe this is one crazy ritual that may have actually worked. For the record — yes, Miles considers this ritual humbling as a man paying respect to a great game and yes, Tigers Stadium’s grass tastes the best.
6. Playoff Beards
The playoff beard is the greatest playoff tradition ever but it is quite a wild ritual. The true origin of the playoff beard is debatable but most experts credit the dynasty of the 1980’s New York Islanders. Defenceman Ken Morrow’s beard is often sourced as the first playoff beard, however, the 1980’s New York Islanders housed two Swedish players that many people believe started the tradition to pay homage to Swedish tennis superstar, Bjorn Borg. Since then, the playoff beard — and beards, in general — have escalated to quite a social phenomenon. Originally, the rules were that stopped shaving when you entered the playoffs, you won the Stanley Cup and then you shaved. Over time, the tradition has evolved slightly but still remains iconic to one of the greatest times of the year — NHL playoffs.
5. One Tournament, One Pair of Socks
American tennis star Serena Williams apparently believes her habit of winning is actually due in large part to routine. The 17-time Grand Slam champion chalks up some of her biggest losses to a lapse in her traditional routine of wearing specific footwear to the court and bouncing the tennis ball a specific number of times before her first and second serves, respectively. However, the most important ritual Serena swears by — wearing one pair of socks during an entire tournament run. The no.1 ranked Women’s singles tennis player has credited some of the greatest accomplishments achieved by a female athlete to a pair of socks.
4. No Shelled Peanuts or $50 Bills
It’s understandable for NASCAR drivers to have some pretty serious superstitions considering they work inside a metal box moving at nearly 200mph. When most athletes have a bad day it’s often credited to a bad passing percentage or blowing a save, but when NASCAR drivers have a bad day, the consequences can be fatal. The “no shelled peanuts” policy dates back to WWII as they were always found in cars that had crashed. The legend behind the ban on $50 bills reportedly dates back to champion racer Joe Weatherby after he was found with two of them in his pocket in a fatal crash in 1964.
3. No-hitter Silence
Much like cult favorite film, Fight Club, the first rule about a no-hitter is you don’t talk about a no-hitter. You don’t talk about it, you don’t think about it, don’t bother doing anything other than what you’ve been doing — and that means standing where you’ve been standing and completely avoiding the pitcher. It may seem like quite the dramatic approach for something that hasn’t happened yet. It is the ultimate achievement for a pitcher and one that many people may not be able to truly appreciate, but just remember…The second rule of a no-hitter is you don’t talk about a no-hitter. Got it?
2. Zambezi River Cleansing
Unlike most of the list, this bizarre one-time ritual made the cut simply for the fact that it was actually considered a ritual. In 2008, the coaches of a men’s Zimbabwean soccer team figured the best way to turn a recent string of losses around was to wade in the Zambezi river. It seems that the managing staff was too concerned with turning their luck around that nobody bothered to check that the river was safe and open to the public. 16 men entered the water and only 15 returned. It turns out the water was off limits to swimmers due to strong currents and because it was infested with hippos and crocodiles. Surprisingly, the one man that did not survive the team’s cleansing ritual actually succumbed to the current before facing any wild animals.
1. Pee Preference
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida turned some fans off back in 2009 during an interview in which he confessed to drinking his urine every morning. As disgusting as that is, Machida swears by his own “natural medicine” largely thanks to his father who was the one that introduced him to this ridiculous ritual. Machida is currently training in preparation for UFC 175 where he’ll take on current Middleweight Champion, Chris Weidman.
Former Major League outfielder Moises Alou also relied on his own urine to help his game. Alou told ESPN that he would pee on his hands to toughen them up allowing him to go against the grain and bat with no gloves. As far as baseball goes, we know there are nasty things that occur on the field, in the dugout and in the locker rooms, but openly and willingly pissing on your hands as some form of strategy is ludicrous.