Athletes have a long history with superstition, all hoping that these little things they do will increase their chance of winning. Below are just some of the superstitions that can be found in the world of sports.
Michael Jordan is an alumnus of University of North Carolina. In 1992, during his time at UNC, Michael led his team to the NCAA Championships. Because of this, Michael believed the UNC shorts he wore during the championships were good luck. He continued to wear his college UNC basketball shorts under his team shorts during every Chicago Bulls game.
Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs had several superstitions over the course of his 18-year career. Before each game, Wade would eat chicken. Early in his career, he realized there was a correlation between eating chicken and multiple hits during the game. From that time on, chicken was an important part of his pre-game. When Wade was playing a night game, he would begin batting practice at exactly 5:17 pm, fielding 150 infield ground balls. After batting practice, Wade would start wind sprints at exactly 7:17 pm.
Leading up to the 2006 World Cup Games, Team Ecuador prepared in a unique way. They had a shaman go to all the venues for the upcoming games and banish the evil spirits. Following this banishing, Team Ecuador had their most successful World Cup run ever, getting all the way to Round 16.
First baseman Jason Giambi played for several Major League Baseball teams until his retirement in 2015. He has tried a couple of things to pull himself out of a slump, including growing a mustache and wearing a gold thong before a game. Jason’s gold thong superstition seemed to great yield results, leading his teammates to borrow the thong from him.
Larry Walker was a professional right fielder in Major League Baseball for 17 years. During his years playing baseball, Larry based his superstitions around the number three. This showed up in his personal and professional life. Larry’s jersey was number 33 and he would take three practice swings, or some multiple of three, each time he was up to bat. He was also married on the third day of the month at 3:33 pm, had a phone number with a lot of threes, and signed a $3 million contract in 1993.
Baseball pitcher Steve Kline enjoyed an 11-year career in Major League Baseball. During that time, he developed a superstition where he would not wash his hat throughout the entire season! Each season, he would try to one up himself, making his hat dirtier than the year before. Steve has said that this superstition not only helped him win, it kept him grounded and helped him remember where he came from.
Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion Lyoto Machida has a particularly disgusting superstition. Lyoto has a daily habit of drinking his own urine. A habit that he picked up from his father, Lyoto believes that drinking urine is natural medicine and a great way to internally cleanse his body. He continues to be a successful mixed martial artist, so it is possible he is on to something.
Rafael Nadal is currently ranked as the number one men’s tennis player. He has many superstitions, that are not only to be performed before a match but during it as well. For a pre-match superstition, exactly 45 minutes before every match, Rafael takes a cold shower. He also puts his headband on as he is walking out on the court, not before when he gets dressed. The rest of his superstitions make an appearance during match play. Rafael always walks onto the court with one racket in his hand. He never steps on any of the court lines, and always crosses the baseline to serve with his right foot. Rafael always has two water bottles sitting by his seat. The water bottles, one cold and one room temperature, must have the labels pointing towards the side of the court where Rafael is playing. When Rafael is serving, he will only take tennis balls from one ball boy or girl, not from multiple.
Bjorn Borg was a tennis great. He won Wimbledon, the tennis tournament, five years in a row from 1976-1980. He had an unshakeable confidence and calm on the court. Bjorn had a few superstitions surrounding Wimbledon in particular. His superstitions included growing a beard prior to the tournament as well as wearing the same Fila shirt throughout the entire tournament. Bjorn also had a very involved system regarding preparing his racquets before a match.
NBA player Jason Terry has many superstitions leading up to a basketball game. He has played as a shooting guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and Houston Rockets. He is currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. Jason makes a point to eat chicken before each game, the night prior to a game he wears the shorts of his upcoming opposing team, and during play he wears five pairs of socks (yes, at once!) for all his games.