So after losing another game despite wearing my “lucky” Liverpool 2019-20 top, drinking out of my “lucky” Liverpool FC mug, sitting in my “lucky” position with one hand behind my head and the other one on my phone I came to the conclusion that maybe my “lucky” quirks have run their course. I don’t know what else to do now. How do I control my beloved Liverpool Football Club? What new superstition must I concoct to get them to win again?
Why do I believe that my routines actually have any impact on an event with so many variables? This question got me thinking of why sports fans, and football supporters most notably, have a superstition for everything.
SENSE OF CONTROL
The unpredictable happenings of any particular game depend on numerous factors. These factors are beyond our control. That control is in the hands (or feet) of the participants in said game. As fans we experience a lack of control over the outcome, so we unlock an internal superstition, belief, or ritual that we believe will influence a desired performance from afar.
TRADITION AND RITUAL
Sports are steeped in tradition. Rituals create a sense of belonging and connection for fans. Engaging in superstitions allows fans to interconnect and create a special bond all the while feeling more involved with the process.
When we analyze what we were doing at the time of a desired outcome, we continue that behavior with the belief of it being repeated. Fans remember every one that “works” as well as all that don’t. This selective memory reinforces the belief and “proves” the influence.
Especially during seasons like the one we’re in, superstitions can help fans emotionally deal with a lot of things. Uncertainty, stress, and anxiety are just a few. These rituals provide comfort and the illusion of influence in taxing circumstances.
Superstitions can provide a fun and engaging way for fans to bond with each other. Camaraderie is built on these conversation starters and eventually, everybody is in on both the fun (as well as the neurosis).
Similarly to the social aspect, fans may adopt superstitions they see from others without direct contact. Peers, family members, and even the players that fans are watching may have followable, comforting patterns of behavior. This connection creates a sense of belonging and identification within the community.
All in all, superstitions help sports fans navigate the great unknown. As Liverpool has shown us throughout the 2022-23 campaign, they don’t always work. It leaves us looking forward to next year and trying out a whole new lineup of quirks.