Sports are chock-full of superstitious. Athletes have routines that prevent them from jinxing a game, and so do their fans. Some are a little juvenile and maybe even just a slight bit gross -- like wearing the same undergarments for the entire run of a series or sticking a wad of chewed gum on the bill of your baseball cap. Others, though, are harmless fun (unless, of course, you're for the opposing team).
Star-Telegram readers told us the detailed ways in which they support their favorite teams -- from high school to the majors -- with silly rituals over the years. If you're concerned that we might have put a hex on your team by printing this story, maybe you should consider adopting one of these readers' routines to void the jinx.
The secret is in the hair
Joe Blackwell, 66, Bedford
Four or five years ago, Joe Blackwell purchased a white Texas Christian University visor with spiky, purple hair from a candy store in Fort Worth. What's more, he talked it down from $25 to $15 because of a chocolate stain on the bill. He didn't wear it two years ago when TCU lost to Utah, so now he doesn't leave home without it -- when he's attending a TCU football game, that is. TCU hasn't lost a regular-season game since. Some friends who often attend games with Blackwell jokingly tell him not to bother showing up unless he wears the visor.
"I don't forget it anymore after I got chastised for the one time," he said.
He'll put the visor's postseason powers to the test Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
The reason for this loss is black and white
Angela Redman, 26, Arlington
On Halloween night, the Texas Rangers battled at home in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Despite the fact that the team was making its first World Series appearance in the club's history, there was candy and fright to be had. Angela Redman decked out her 2-year-old son, Noah, in a red Rangers shirt and skunk costume created by her grandmother more than 15 years ago. Redman tells the rest best:
'Twas All Hallows Eve, when all down the street
Not a person was safe from a skunk's trick-or-treat.
The candy was out by the door well ahead,
In hopes that the skunk would take some instead.
This skunk's scent could travel quite far, you see,
All the way to the ballpark, where the ump called, "Strike three!"
For the Rangers had just lost Game 4 at home,
While out around town that stinker did roam.
The next morning I rose to my paper and coffee,
In hopes to move on and put faith in Cliff Lee.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's headline, quite clear:
"After skunking by Giants, Rangers face scary but real prospect of losing the World Series."
Who's orange, black and spirited all over?
Maryrita Mallet, 49, Aledo
Give her a pair of black slacks, an orange headband and earrings, some socks to match and Maryrita Mallet is good to go for an Aledo Bearcats varsity football game. Oh, and throw in some shoes with orange trim for good measure. Mallet really jumped into the spirit feet first when her daughter got to high school and joined the band. "As time progressed, we got more and more of the regalia," she says.
The psychiatrist has missed games only for business or other travel and even dons her gear at the office after a win. "It's all part of the fun," she says.
Root, root, root for the home team -- but stay away
Paddy Eden, 57, Rhome
Paddy Eden has been a Texas Rangers fan since the club's first game in 1972. He saw the first home run by a Ranger in the old Arlington Stadium -- by Frank Howard, he recalls. Even still, he and his wife, Beverly, take responsibility for at least six of the Rangers' losses this last season after noticing a trend: every time they attended a game, the Rangers lost. The Edens' jinx wasn't confined to the U.S. borders either. For their anniversary, the couple traveled to Toronto to watch the Rangers play, and ... the Rangers lost. At first, Eden and his wife brushed it off as bad luck, but they gave it one final shot during the last week of October, and ... the Rangers lost. But don't blame them for the Rangers' World Series woes -- they decided to stay away so as not to shoulder the blame for any postseason defeat. The Edens hope this trend doesn't carry over to 2011.
"We're fans and want to see a game," Eden says. "So we'll at least try and see how it goes."
The Steeler shuffle
Donna Grazetti, 38, Grand Prairie
Don't bother asking the Grazettis if you can join them at their home to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play -- the family follows a very strict, yet fluid, routine for watching the game. Not even the family dog, which wears a Steelers bandanna, is exempt from donning the team regalia. Originally a Dallas Cowboys fan, Donna Grazetti married into Steelers fandom when she wed her husband, Wayne, a Pittsburgh native. It also helped that Donna Grazetti's former classmate Tommy Maddox joined the Steelers in 2001. Nonetheless, the family's routine varies, not from game to game, but from play to play.
Wayne wears a Steelers helmet on all third downs. Their 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, sits at the same end of the couch every game. There are no restroom or snack breaks -- except during commercial breaks. If the team is behind, the Grazettis counter by mixing up their "mojo."
"Whatever works at that moment is what we get into," Donna explains.
But the routine isn't without its pitfalls. Donna recounted a time when her husband had to have knee surgery after an injury he sustained while celebrating a play.
Ultimately, however, the adherence to the Steelers' schedule isn't necessarily about victories.
"It's our family time," Donna says. "Sundays we're together and always happy."
The easy button
Debra Million, 51, Fort Worth
Debra Million, a University of Oklahoma graduate and football season ticket holder, acquired a generic red, OU button at some point in college, but she can't recall how. She does remember the first time she wore it -- at a game in Boulder, Colo. Now, unless she forgets it, she wears it every game day. She sweats it when she doesn't wear the button, most notably when Oklahoma played Nebraska a month ago.
"The way we started in the first quarter, I thought we were gonna get crushed," she remembers.
Million has other routines. She must drink from her Sooners coffee mug. She can't take too much pleasure in an opponents' loss, or else her Sooners will lose, "and I certainly don't taunt friends who went to opposing schools," she says. And when she gets up at games to get a snack from the concessions stand or to use the restroom, her Sooners score. Friends who have had the same seats near Million's for the past 20 years even get in on the prodding by saying, "Debra, go to the bathroom!"