Magical Thinking, Basketball, and Louisville, Kentucky

doomWe sports fans are superstitious.  I’m absolutely certain if I wear my OCTAGON OF DOOM T-shirt Kansas State will win all home basketball games.   I didn’t wear it Saturday and we lost.

My husband believed that if he held our buff cocker spaniel in a certain way, the University of Louisville Cardinals would win.  That was in 1980 when we DID win our first national championship. buff cocker Guess it did work all.

But what this is really is called “magical thinking”, the idea that if I do things exactly this way, I have control over the situation.  It’s magic!

I’m guilty of this which is why, when my sister-in-law Diane called last Wednesday  and said “I’m afraid if I don’t go to the Ash Wednesday services tonight, Uof L will lose the game,”  I believed her.  Yes, the Cards were playing SMU on Ash Wednesday and she feared God would punish her team if she didn’t go to the service.    I didn’t go to services because I don’t drive at night so this was ALL up to Diane.   She hadn’t decided yet if she’d leave as soon as she got the ash cross on her forehead–the Episcopalians have a name for that act but I belong to a far less liturgical church and don’t know what the word is–or stay for the entire service.

Neither of us believe God cares  who wins a basketball game.   We know a final score is is a petty concern in a world filled with hunger and disease,  earthquakes and tsunamis.  And, yet, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t tempt fate.  That’s superstition not faith.

So, yes, I know God doesn’t guide a basketball through a hoop or cause a turnover.  But when SMU went up 26-12, I leaped to my feet, grabbed a phone, and called to tell her that I blamed her for the lopsided score if she hadn’t gone to the service.

Connecticut v LouisvilleShe wasn’t home.   I left a message.  As I hung up, UofL went on a run and never looked back.  We won easily.   She called me after the game was over and took credit for the win because she’d gone to the entire service   Thank you, Diane!

Do you have a superstition which guarantees your team wins?  Or at least makes you feel as if you have some control?

4 thoughts on “Magical Thinking, Basketball, and Louisville, Kentucky

  1. In spite of being a Wildcats (KSU) fan, I’m not holding my breath. I might, however, hold that octagonal DOOM thingy. Just in case. 😉

  2. Feelings tell me about the outcome. Before my son’s 2 championship football games 3 years apart, (he coaches a University team in Mexico), I just had no worries. Just felt from the get go, that all would be ok.
    And, I have been proved right both times. So on championship day, I’m 100% thus far. Oh yes, I also try to wear the same clothes at each championship game!

    1. Kathy–sorry your comment slipped past me. I’m glad to see your magical thinking calms you. As you remember, we always wore purple to a KSU games. It seemed to work in basketball but NOT in football.

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