The Chicago Cubs really shouldn’t
Never mind that they were the best team in baseball this year, by far. Never mind the fact that nearly everyone in the sports world had them as clear favorites to win the World Series when the playoffs began. The Cubs had to face a team coursing with Even Year Magic, and beyond the Giants lurked the Curse of the Billy Goat and the ghost of the Steve Bartman incident (look it up, kids). What were the chances of them making it through all of that? I mean, come on.
All kidding aside, all of these superstitions were seen by many as valid obstacles to the Cubs’ title run. Even now, as the Series begins, sports fans like myself have a nagging suspicion that the Cubs’ misery will continue. No matter what you think the outcome will be (my personal prediction is Cubs in seven games), in the back of your head is that thought that won’t go away: the Cubs can’t win.
In today’s world, becoming ever-more scientific, technological, and analytical, sports are one of the only things to still have an air of fantasy surrounding them. Fans talk of curses and jinxes, and of magic and fortune. The “baseball gods” are widely accepted to have a hand in every game, and you better hope they’re rooting for your team.
Players tap into this superstitious culture, finding a lucky token or article of clothing (à la Tiger Wood’s red shirt) that they believe helps them perform better. Far more than players, though, superstition rests on fans. I think I speak for many sports fans when I say that I feel like the clothes I’m wearing, the way I’m sitting, or the food I’m eating has a profound effect on the game.
But why? Rationally, we know that our actions have absolutely no effect on the outcome of the game. We believe in these superstitions, these ways for us to have a hand in our team’s victory, because it is human nature to desire control. Though realistically, we can’t affect the game in any way, it comforts us to think that we can, however we might do that.
At least that’s what my right brain thinks. My left brain is trying to remember where my lucky Warriors socks are.