USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘athletes’
Protection

Superstitions Amongst College and Professional Athletes in the Locker Room

Nationality: American

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): None

Age: 80

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 9, 2017 (via Skype)

 

 

Robert is a 80 year old man, born and raised in New Jersey who is a retired business executive.  He played varsity level college basketball at the University of Florida and in the National Basketball Association with the New York Knicks.

 

Interviewer: Good Morning. Do professional athletes have superstations when they are active players?

 

Informant: “Well basically if you had a good game you never change your socks for the next game, you wear the same jock.  if you had a particular outfit that you wore to the game and it was a bad game then you would change the outfit and if it was a good game maybe you would wear it again the second day.  And those are some of the superstitions. If you were parked in a specific spot and you did have a good night then you would want that same spot. Then you would arrange everything you could to make sure you got the same spot all over again.

 

Interviewer:  So this is your recollection when you played ball in College as well as professionally for the New York Knicks.

 

Informent: Correct

 

Interviewer:  Was this about all players?

 

Informant: Most players all have superstitions. Some of the guys would before the game have warm ups. They would want to be the last one to shot the ball in the hoop before the game started. So they kind of hang out when everyone is getting ready to go to the bench before the game started and then they would take the ball and shoot the little jump shot just cause that was a superstition and they wanted to have the last shot.

 

Interviewer:  When did you first start observing these superstitions?

 

Informant: When I was in college at the University of Florida. Most ball players have a superstition. I mean it goes into how you put your uniform on, the same way. If you had a good game you always wondered what made you have a good game.

 

Interviewer: And ah did it ever play out to the point that where your superstition reinforced your belief?

 

Informant: Yes. You would have the superstition and if you hit three or four in a row you would say that’s it, that’s it, and then you would keep doing it until it changed. When it changed you would look for another superstition.

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Anyone who has played or even been a spectator of sports observes silly rituals that are important to fans and players. This professional basketball player took the rules of luck seriously. For other sports superstitions that famous athletes believe see: http://www.mensfitness.com/life/sports/10-most-superstitious-athletes

 

Adulthood
Digital

The University of Chicago “C Bench”

At the University of Chicago, there is a concrete bench in the form of a C in front of the administration building.  According to my informant, who attended the University of Chicago in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, you were not to sit on the C bench “unless you were a letterman or had been kissed by a letterman.”  Essentially only athletes and the girlfriends of athletes could use the bench.  My informant says that if someone violated this rule, however, no one really did anything, it’s was just a funny rule.

After some research, it seems that there are two different traditions surrounding the C Bench from different eras.  In the early 1900’s, the C Bench was off-limits for Freshman, and any freshman who sat on it would most definitely be harassed by older students.  Back then, the C Bench was a big social center of campus and lots of people hung out there.  In later years, that tradition appears to have faded and been replaced by reserving the C Bench for athletes and their girlfriends.   At this point in time, however, the C Bench seems to have dwindled as a hot spot for social activity and the  tradition had lost almost all meaning, especially with the school’s shift from athletic focus to academic focus.

http://college.uchicago.edu/story/story-bench

Humor

Saran-Wrapping

Standard saran wrap will cling to itself, and using this property, it is possible to temporarily trap a friend in bed my tightly wrapping a few rolls around the width of their bed while they sleep.

 

My informant learned this practical joke when members of his club water polo team started to talk about it.  His teammates were also playing for their respective high school teams at the same time, and a few of them had just returned from a tournament in San Jose.  During the trip, they had succeeded in pulling this prank on the only freshman that played on their varsity team.  While away from home, the whole team shared a room of bunk beds for when they needed to sleep.  Early in they day, they pulled the freshman’s bed out from the wall, to make it easier to unroll the saran wrap around the width of the bed.  Once the freshman had fallen asleep, the rest of the team unraveled several rolls of saran wrap around the freshman, holding him in place.  The rest of the team woke up five minutes before the freshman and watched him struggle and scream a few times before he saw the saran wrap holding him down.

My informant thought this was awesome and he decided he would try it himself as soon as possible.  He told me that this prank can work as long as you share a room and it works best if the victim is sleeping on the top of a bunk bed because it’s easier to maneuver the saran wrap.  The victim will wake up and try to get up like usual, but none of his appendages will respond because they’re held in place under the layers of saran wrap.  They’ll be terrified, trapped, and paralyzed for a few moments until they figure out what has happened.  He also suggested that it’s used because the culprits bond as they plan the prank and it’s funny to watch the victim struggle in bed.

This prank closely simulates the human condition of sleep paralysis.  Someone suffering from sleep paralysis will experience temporary paralysis after they wake up.  It occurs when the brain awakes from REM sleep before the rest of the body.  The paralysis can last for a few seconds to a few minutes, until the person is able to return to sleep or completely awaken. To a person that doesn’t suffer from sleep paralysis, waking up with the inability to move can be terrifying.  One’s mind immediately starts to imagine life as a quadriplegic before looking for any reasonable explanation for the immobility.

I have a personal experience with this prank because my informant attempted to perform it on me.  We attended a weekend-long winter camp in high school.  On the first night, I woke up, it was extremely bright and it felt like there were daggers in my face.  I immediately thought to sit up and stop whatever was hurting my face.  There was a little resistance, and I sat up and saw my informant and friends laughing.  I punched a few of them before turning over and going back to bed.  In the morning my informant told me the group had tried to trap me in bed, but they could not get the saran wrap tight enough to hold me down.  Also, the group grew tired of waiting for me to wake up, so they shined a flashlight in my eyes.  When that didn’t work, they threw snow in my face.  This accounts for the brightness and the pain I felt on my face.  I was upset that I had been awoken from my sleep and that my face hurt from being covered in snow, but I was also glad that the group chosen to prank me over anyone else.  In this way, this was a rite of passage, as I had gone from an outsider to someone that was involved in their prank.  Similarly, the freshman mentioned earlier was accepted by his team in the same way.

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