A Little Stitous

Tyler (6).jpg

It all comes down to this. A successful two point conversion forces overtime. Otherwise, the Broncos go to the Super Bowl. 

As I stood there in the nosebleeds, section 524 row 18 seat 18, I took a mental tally of all that I had done that day.

Lucky jersey, check. Lucky seat, check. Lucky orange shoes, check. Seven other pregame preparations to make, check. 

Brady dropped back, waited, threw over the middle, and we picked him off. 

The stadium went absolutely crazy. We were going to the Super Bowl. In that moment, I definitely was not thinking about superstitions or any sort of lucky attire. 

Contrast that with two years before, when the Broncos lost miserably in the Super Bowl. I spent that whole night wondering if I should have worn a different jersey, or gone to a different Super Bowl party, or maybe just not watched at all. It might have been less heartbreaking that way, if nothing else. 

I think it’s human nature to want to influence the things we care about. And that desire gets amplified when it comes to sports. 

When it comes down to it, we want the outcome in our hands. Whether it be to take the last shot, catch the last pass, have the last at-bat, or serve the match point, I think it’s natural to want the spotlight and to be in control. 

I can definitely say, with a great degree of certainty, that it is incredibly frustrating not to have the outcome in your hands and then have your team lose. Watching the other team hit a buzzer beater or ace the match point is the most demoralizing and heartbreaking experience possible in sports. 

So when it comes to professional sports, where the outcome is completely out of our hands, we rely on superstitions to create an illusion of control over the outcome. 

I’m not talking about witchcraft or anything like that, and I think anyone who has these little superstitions would admit that they (we) know the game isn’t actually influenced in any way. Still, we insist on continuing to wear that lucky shirt until sufficient evidence would tell us to do otherwise.

To some extent, from a psychological perspective, these behaviors make perfect sense. We as humans try to develop patterns and use them to predict the outcome of future events.

We obviously want our team(s) to win, and so we try to influence that “prediction” by doing little things at home or at the game that we think have helped “lead” to past successes. It also gives us the chance to be active rather than passive participants. 

At the end of the day, sports superstitions are nothing more than nervous behaviors, not unlike biting one’s nails (which many people, including myself, do a lot more of during sports games).

But you’ll have to make quite the argument for me to go against any of my superstitions.

Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.