My informant is my roommate and she was a high school and college athlete and has had many years of sports-related rituals. She was recounting to me a high school experience.
Me: “So, being a college athlete, you are pretty intense, do you have any rituals or superstitions before a game?”
CB: “Before a water polo game we would all huddled together and the shower inside of the locker room we all hold hands and say the Lords prayer, then the captains would give a small little speech about what we are looking to do in the upcoming game after the speech we would put our arms around each other shoulders and we would do this cheer three times, louder each time that would go “oh I feel so good, like I knew I would do, I feel so good a little bit louder now.”
Then after we would do the cheer three times we were basically screaming like all the parents could hear us outside the locker room then we would say SFA just go fight win on three and then we would all run out of the locker room super pumped for the game.
Sports has an incredible about of rituals, especially in team sports, because there is a lot of the game which is out of the player’s immediate control and which they desire to take back control through ritual. Pre-game rituals like this are designed to bring good-luck to the team and to promote confidence for the game as pre-games are rife with anxiety and fear of the unknown outcome of the game. In this case, the ritual was for an entire team, creating good luck through ritual. Additionally, the team prayed the Our Father before, this is a common occurrence in many sports pre-game. This may be a case of putting the game’s outcome in heavenly hands or asking for God’s help in the upcoming game. This can be attributed to again the uncertainty of a sports game, and many occurrences may seem like divine intervention. This ritual’s purpose is to boost confidence, unite the team and to dissipate any uneasiness about the upcoming game.
Sports rituals such as these are learned through participation on a team, outsiders usually don’t participate in them, therefore it is restrictive to a particular team. Knowing such rituals and their purpose is a part of their identity as athletes, performing them solidifies their team identity and loyalty.