Playoff superstitions. We all have them. It’s a yearly companion, showing up whenever our favorite team begins to sniff a shot at being in the playoffs. For those of us who are fans of the Carolina Hurricanes, it’s been awhile since we’ve had a chance to dust off our patterns of behavior that go along with playoff superstitions. But, since the ‘Canes are lurking around a Wild Card spot, I thought it timely to break out a few quirks, superstitions if you will, that we engage in whenever our favorite team gets close to or in the playoffs. After all, we all know it’s fan superstitions that directly affect the outcome of games, right?
Everybody has lucky gear that is essential to their favorite team’s success. It could be a team hat or jersey, maybe a mug or koozie or favorite logo-adorned pillow that has to be clutched tightly throughout an entire game or during certain periods. Like the team hat, it can be thrown at the television when things don’t go the way we want, or up in the air to celebrate a win or a goal scored.
if u dont have superstitions on game day, are you even a fan?
— Mike Kelson (@mikekelson34) January 24, 2016
Throwing the lucky mug or glass with the team logo is not recommended, especially at the television. This could bust up the television, or worse, break the lucky mug/glass, a huge disaster virtually assuring that our team will go on an extended losing streak and miss the playoffs. Of course if thrown in the air in a moment of celebration, it could land on your head, possibly causing a need for a trip to the local urgent care for stitches. Throwing the lucky koozie is okay, provided it is removed from whatever it is wrapped around first. (See reasons for not throwing lucky mug above).
When our team gets close to the playoffs, we tend to stake out our lucky spot from which to watch the games. This is typically a chair such as a recliner or a specific spot on the sofa. This is essential to our team’s playoff chances. Many games have been lost due to an incorrect seating or standing position. This is especially tricky when the family decides to watch with us, or we have guests over. While yelling at the spouse or kids to get out of our spot is not recommended, particularly with profanity mixed in, a careful explanation during a family meeting explaining how the team’s fortunes ride on where we sit might be helpful.
Handling guests should not be a problem, after all if they are at our house to watch the game they should understand and respect the importance of our playoff superstitions. A guest’s spouse could be a tricky situation to deal with, like if they just plop down in our lucky spot with no regard for the importance of positioning when it comes to the outcome of our team’s games.
My advice is to be polite, but firm. Simply ask first, then tell, then demand that they get out of our spot. It’s really that important, and our guest should have a chat with their spouse on the way home, insuring that their spouse will never again dare to violate the sacred playoff game-viewing spot. In fact, this couples-conversation should have been had long before they darkened our door, and that is an issue that may need to be addressed with our friend at a later time.
Every hockey fan has their own superstitions once playoffs begin #BecauseItsTheCup
— Matt Bialek (@mattbialek19) May 2, 2015
Positioning may also include which hand we hold the television remote control in. An absent-minded placing it in the wrong hand could result in our team getting scored on before we even know what happened. Should this occur the temptation may be to throw the television remote control. However, this is not recommended. (See reasons above for not throwing the lucky mug).
Pacing during key points of a game may also be an important fan superstition. Back and forth in front of the television is typically the most common path of pacing, although many variations of this do exist. It all comes down to finding what works and sticking with it.
Similar to having the television remote control in the wrong hand, veering off a proven playoff-pacing path could spell disaster. Imagine losing focus and wondering into the kitchen only to return to our path and find that our team has been scored on twice. Again, find what works and don’t deviate. The season may depend on it.
Miscellaneous but Crucial Superstitions
Some of our most crucial patterns of playoff paranoia may not be directly related to the actual game. Yet they can be important in setting the game up in the most favorable manner. These will vary with everyone, and can include things such as what is eaten for breakfast on game day, that lucky tie that is worn to work, or finding the lucky parking spot.
The particular snacks that are enjoyed before and during the game may be vital to your team’s success. Is it nachos for away games or wings for home games? Do we have Diet Coke for home games and regular Pepsi for away? Obviously the issue is not what is to be eaten, but what is to be eaten that increases our team’s chance of winning.
Leave the playoff bears to the players. Unless you have verifiable data that your playoff beard helps your team, shave. Messing with the karma of the players’ playoff beard could spell disaster.
After last season’s Stanley Cup Finals, NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus implored the players to lose the playoff beards. Lazarus said the excess facial hair made it difficult for fans to recognize the players on television. Obviously Lazarus has no playoff superstitions of his own or he would not have even thought of making such a request. Lazarus said,
“I know it’s a tradition and superstition, but I think (the beards do) hurt recognition. They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, ‘That guy looks like the kid next door,’ which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing.”
Well Mark, it ain’t gonna happen so forget about it. As long as there are superstitions in sports there will be playoff beards, lucky gear, lucky spots and every other quirk that fans and players hold onto as key to winning.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.