As a t-shirt company, we are hip to the beauty of sports team T-shirts. Of course you will sport your finest sports paraphernalia during the Super Bowl this weekend. Your love of your team, it is as plain as the logo on your chest.
Or maybe you are the superstitious type. For you, your team colors symbolize more than just team pride. You don your jersey so that you can somehow influence the order of the NFL football cosmos. We thought we’d uncover this mysterious tribe of mystics by taking a look at some of the more prevalent Super Bowl superstitions.
“According to a poll released in January  by the Public Religion Research Institute, about half of all Americans believe that some element of the supernatural plays a role in sporting events.” (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/31/for-some-fans-super-bowl-has-supernatural-twist/) Half!
Players have rituals around everything from the pregame meal (Super Bowl Champion, Peyton Manning is known to have a very specific meal of chicken, pasta, a baked potato, broccoli, and Gatorade before every single game, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford’s pregame meal consists of threes – 3 PBJs, 3 stalks of broccoli, 3 slices of pineapple – anything in three groups of three) to music (some players steep themselves in it, others avoid it like the plague) to the famous Aaron Rodgers beard-pull.
Fans have their own rituals. We’ve got the Super Bowl stock market indicator, game day socks (unwashed and undefeated), prayers, face paint, curses, dances, special seating during the game, special hats (what is the football version of the rally cap?)…you name it.
In a new article in Psychology Today we find support for our wacky behaviors: “Your team is depending on you. You’ve got to help them win. If you get any of this wrong, your team will lose and it will be your fault.” There it is! In black and white. My team needs me.
Sadly though, it’s not quantum theory, the butterfly effect, or The Benevolent Universe at work here. Psychology Today explains: “Humans and other animals have evolved to learn to recognize our effects on the world around us. We behave and look for how the world responds. We develop beliefs that what we did caused the outcome. We do something, something else happens, and we assume that we were the cause. Psychologists have often studied operant conditioning to understand how people and other animals learn about action and response. In operant conditioning, an animal performs a behavior and then receives a reward (usually food). Soon the animal is repeatedly performing that behavior.”
But don’t lose heart. The article ends this way: “…Put on your jersey and go join your friends. Even if you aren’t the cause, it feels good to be with friends and family during the big game. Besides, you’d hate for your team to lose if you don’t wear your jersey. You’d never live that down.” (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201501/superstitions-and-the-super-bowl)
Have a terrific Super Bowl! Go Patriots!
image attribution: By Dhern029 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons