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Ann Cannon: Game day superstitions silly — or are they?

Published November 5, 2011 6:37 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

During Game Four of the recent World Series, the announcers noted that Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa is famously superstitious.

I was interested in this remark, because (in my experience) the world of sports is rife with superstition. Sportlandia, in fact, is populated by normal people with typically excellent hygiene who suddenly stop changing their socks (and possibly their jockstraps) once their team goes on a winning streak.

I got online to read about La Russa and discovered that while managing the White Sox, he received a credible death threat, so the dude wore a bulletproof vest covered by a team jacket to the next game, which the White Sox won! You know how it is! Wearing a bulletproof vest magically makes you a winner!

La Russa eventually ditched the vest but continued to wear the jacket to subsequent games, even in the smothering heat of an Illinois summer, until people in neighboring counties complained they could smell him whenever they stood downwind of Chicago's south side.

When I read this, I yawned and went "Whatever," because when it comes to superstition, La Russa is bush league compared with my mother.

Here's the deal about Mom: Typically she's this incredibly sane, smart, sensible (hey, nice alliteration there!) human being — except on game day, when she morphs into (and I say this very, very, respectfully) a nut.

Suddenly she engages in countless pregame rituals designed to help the home team win, including the all-important donning of the Magic Charm Bracelet, which is her answer to Tony La Russa's Magic Team Jacket, except, of course, that it doesn't smell bad on a warm day.

I used to watch Mom's oblations with a detached air of affectionate superiority because you know how teenagers are — tons smarter than their parents. I'd just go okay, fine. If this helps her feel like she can control the outcome of something she actually has no control over, then who am I to criticize?

And so it went.

Until the day she forgot to wear the Magic Charm Bracelet, which had the immediate and disastrous effect of turning our team into a bunch of little girls.

Okay. Let me be clear here. I think little girls are awesome. I was a little girl myself once, and I am totally on board with the whole Girl Power thing. It's just that given a choice, you might not want little girls to suit up on and play a major college football game for you anytime soon.

Well! My brothers, our mother and I sat in stunned silence as we watched the unfolding debacle on the field below.

That's when Mom said in a small voice, "This is my fault. I forgot to wear my bracelet," after which she turned to my brother and told him to go home RIGHT NOW to get it.

Under ordinary circumstances, my brother might have put up a fight. Why should he have to miss out on all the reindeer games? But by now he was afraid of losing the ball game and, it must be said, he was also afraid of our mother who can be frankly intimidating when she (a former rodeo queen) goes and gets her cowgirl on.

So he left at halftime and returned during the third quarter with the Magic Charm Bracelet, which Mom put on. And lo the heavens did immediately part and lo a new quarterback went into the game and lo that quarterback did find his receivers and lo they did hang onto the ball for a change and lo we did win.

And it was good.

Anyway. I tell this story as a public service announcement. If your team is having trouble this fall, feel free to call my mother. Who knows? Maybe she can help.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/columnistcannon.






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