Tag Archives: soccer

“You shank it, you shag it.” Saying in soccer

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Informant: “You shank it, you shag it.”

 It’s kinda like a motto you just say with friends when you are kicking the ball around. Whenever you are just messing around with friends, or at practice and you try and make a goal and you miss it, like completely,  you have to go get it. We are not there to shag balls for other people, especially if they missed super badly. So we just say it kinda as a rule.


The informant is a great friend and housemate of mine, who is currently a senior at USC studying Health and Human Sciences whose family is living in a town four hours outside of Denver, Colorado. Coming from a military family, the informant has lived in various areas, the most memorable for him was New Orleans. The informant is half Korean and half Caucasian, and is a sports fanatic having played soccer for most of his life. The informant is also a very big raver, as he enjoys going to several festivals a year, originally beginning to attend in his senior year of high school. 


While playing soccer for fun one day my informant taught me this quote that him and his friends from his soccer teams would frequently use. When he was willing to participate for an interview I brought it up and asked him to explain it to me. 


This use of folk speech and proverb set general rules and boundaries while soccer players are kicking and shooting goals. Being used in high school, it could reflect the morals and values coaches want to pass down to their players as it encapsulates the general notion of accountability and responsibility in a very pithy way. The alliteration also might help people use it more as it is easy to remember and to say.

“Bottoms Up” Soccer Game

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Informant: Whenever it was someone’s birthday on the team they would have to play “Bottom’s Up.” They would have to stand in the goal, bend over, and grab the net with their head down and closed eyes. Their butts would be in the air facing the field, and everyone else on the team got to take a shot and hit you in the butt. If you were hit, you were hit. If you flinched then the person got to shoot again. It was a fun thing we always ended practice with whenever there was a birthday. I just hated when it was my birthday, haha.


The informant is a great friend and housemate of mine, who is currently a senior at USC studying Health and Human Sciences whose family is living in a town four hours outside of Denver, Colorado. Coming from a military family, the informant has lived in various areas, the most memorable for him was New Orleans. The informant is half Korean and half Caucasian, and is a sports fanatic having played soccer for most of his life. The informant is also a very big raver, as he enjoys going to several festivals a year, originally beginning to attend in his senior year of high school. 


During our interview I brought up how different games can be considered as folklore. After I described how games fit these categories he remembered a game him and his high school soccer team used to play which was taught to them by their coach. 


This folk game is a great combination of a game, as well as a folk ritual as it occurs on every birthday almost serving as an initiation. This shared experience that everyone on the team had to go through is something they could all relate to and participate in, fostering a sense of unity amongst teammates as well. There is also a great sense of humor about this game where everyone gets a chance to honor the person whose birthday in a more rabble-rousing way.

Soccer Streaks

Informant Info: The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator. For the pas

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: I know you played soccer pretty much all of your life until you graduated college. Did you ever have any fun traditions associated with it?


Interviewee: For soccer in high school, we always gave everyone the option to dye a strip of red in the back of their hair (red was one of our school colors) right when the season started. It was like a team bonding thing we did, and it helped bring us closer together as a team (even though it was kinda dumb) because it was just something we all experienced together


Interviewer: Did you start the tradition, or was it already existing? Do you know if it still starts today?


Interviewee: Yeah, we started the tradition in my sophomore year, which was 2007. I’m pretty sure the team still does it, but I’m not fully certain. Either way, I think it was a good way to bring us together, show school spirit, and to intimidate the other team.



The informant became an active-bearer by starting this tradition among the team. I wouldn’t classify this as a superstition of luck, but rather a tradition to, as the informant said it best, “bring the team closer together.” If you can get along and be close with everyone on the team, then the team is more likely to succeed by sharing improved communication while on and off the field.



Switching Soccer Shin Guards


Karl is a freshman aerospace engineering major. He spent thirteen years in a traditional boy’s chorus. He is also an avid soccer player


When I played soccer in high school, my team had this tradition of if we were down we would all take one shin guard out and give it to someone else on the team to wear. SO we would all have like each other’s shin guards on instead of our own. I guess it was sorta a way to like bind us together when we were down and inspire us to try to score another goal and win.

Collector’s thoughts:

The informant explains that the exchanging of shin guards was done as a way to promote good luck when the team was down. Traditions like this are common throughouts sports and can be seen in many different sports. Similar to this tradition, baseball players turn their hats inside out when they are down to promote good luck. It is interesting how in sports one wishes for luck when ultimately it is the athlete using their own skills to accomplish a goal.



¿Cómo no te voy a querer? (Soccer song)

¿Cómo no te voy a querer?

¿Cómo no te voy a querer?

Si tu corazón azul es

Y tu piel dorada

Siempre te querré


How am I not going to love you?

How am I not going to love you?

If your heart is blue

And your skin is gold

I’ll always love you



When we lived in Mexico, uh, we used to go to soccer games a lot, like, club games. And, uh… my dad’s favorite team… I guess the whole family, we, like, really liked the same team, they were called Pumas. And, like… there was this song that they would always sing at the, uh, like, the games that was like… [performed the song] Um… because the team’s colors are blue and gold.


Example of performance:

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQNqI3FhT0I)



This song shows a loyalty to the team, regardless of the game’s outcome (“I’ll always love you”), and makes the bond between team and fans deeply personal, talking about the heart and the skin. Here, the fans (or the players) come to embody the team’s colors and logo. It is also one of the more positive sports songs, which simply declares one’s love for their team, rather than trying to tear the opposing team down.



For another version of this song, this time performed for the Real Madrid team, see:

“Como No Te Voy a Querer – Nuevo Himno Del Real Madrid.” YouTube, YouTube, 3 June 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED7QCHQzlRs.

(These lyrics read: “¿Cómo no te voy a querer? ¿Cómo no te voy a querer? Si eres campeón de Europa por décima vez.”

Translation: How am I not going to love you? How am I not going to love you? If you are champion of Europe for the tenth time.”)

Pre-Soccer Game Ritual

“D” is a 19 year old female student at The University of Southern California. She is a Chemistry major and interested in pursuing Pharmacy after college.  She is Vietnamese on both sides of her family and describes herself as very close with her sister, whom she shares many Folkloric traditions with. She played soccer up through high school and is currently active in the rugby community.



“D: Okay so before each game I would have, it sounds really weird, I would have a chocolate mocha and than I would have to put on my socks left first, than right second. I would also have to put my right cleat on before my left, and my left before my right, in reverse order basically.

Me: Was this because it happened sometime in the past and it worked?

D: It was because it was like a habit, and we won and I kinda just stuck to it.

Me: Do you think there is any validity to that helping you during the game?

D: No, it’s just a superstition. Like I would jump like three times before the whistle blew.

Me:  Was it just you do did the team sorta, did the team sort of condone it?

D: The team had their own little things to do, we’d all like get in a circle before and we’d like talk, we all usually said the same things, like to pump each other up and we’d do like a team sprint to like win.

Me: Do you remember when that started, you had to have noticed that and decided to do it again at some time.

D: It was probably when I was like 10 or 11, when soccer really started to get competitive rather than like recreational.

Me: Okay, so when you played recreational you didn’t have any superstitions?

D: No. It didn’t really matter because I beat everyone”



The pre-game ritual is a well known superstition used to enhance one’s luck in a game prior to the game, they are widely used by profession sports teams (Barabbi, 2014),( Yeager, 2014) and non-professionals alike. “D”s attempt to replicate prior conditions that allowed her to win in the past points at an attempt to replicate a past event that had a favorable outcome, possibly by keeping as many variables the same as possible. Though she does acknowledge it plays no effect on her performance, her continued use of the ritual points to it being reinforcing in some respect. Its use after she considered soccer to be more competitive likely means she did believe it to garner some sort of advantage at the time she conceived of the ritual (Tobacyk & Shrader, 1991).



Work Cited

Barrabi, T. (2014). World Cup 2014: 8 Weirdest Pregame Rituals And Superstitions. International Business Times. Retrieved 30 April 2015, from http://www.ibtimes.com/world-cup-2014-8-weirdest-pregame-rituals-superstitions-1603838

Tobacyk, J., & Shrader, D. (1991). Superstition and self-efficacy.Psychological Reports, 68(3c), 1387-1388.

Yeager, S. (2015). Pregame rituals of the pros. Retrieved 30 April 2015, from                                                                                                                   http://espn.go.com/espnw/training/article/6857252/pregame-rituals-pros


“Back in 1969, I was 7 years old. Kids at that age, even today too, declare allegiance to a soccer club which usually is the one that represents your city. Every town, even small towns have a local soccer team that you root for. But you also have to be a fan of a team in ‘La Liga,’ the national league even if you live in a city which doesn’t have a team playing in ‘La Liga.’. The choice is usually by birthplace, if you were born in a big city that determines which professional team you become a fan of. But if you were not born in a big city or a city without a professional team in ‘La Liga’ then your choice is based off of other factors. For example, a family member like a dad, uncle or a cousin or even a classmate. It can also be based on geographical proximity to a team with a professional team in ‘La Liga.’ And in the big cities that have more than one professional team that is usually shaped by your family, neighborhood, part of town that you were born in, usually. Many kids also by default, in virtually any city, even cities that have professional teams, also follow one of these two teams, Real Madrid or Barcelona. So you can be a Sevilla fan or a Valencia fan but also either Real Madrid or Barcelona, which are the two most powerful clubs. So it’s like in the U.S. that the Lakers or Celtics have fans all over the country. In Spain, the country is always divided into two camps, the Real Madrid followers or Barcelona followers.

So when I was 7, so the American equivalent to second grade, there was a three way split since first grade that I remember. We would always play and talk soccer. So all my classmates were divided into three groups: Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Every kid was a fan of one of those three. In 1969 I saw one day, right after school that season the national championship had been won by Atlético de Madrid. So I saw a poster that featured them on a window of a bookstore. I was looking at that poster and recognized their faces from watching them on television; I knew somewhat the players. In that moment I decided to be a fan of them and no one else from the school was rooting for that team. I particularly liked the striker, Garate. I kind of wanted to, I liked the fact that no one else at the school was rooting for them and also because they had just won the championship I decided that was the team I was going to follow. So that day I became a ‘colchonero.’ That’s the nickname that the followers of that team are known by. The nickname ‘colchonero’ was born in 1913 when the team switched it’s original white and blue colors for red and white vertical stripes. Which up until today are the team colors. The nickname was born because the colors and vertical stripes reminded people of the design of mattress covers of the time. Mattresses of the time, early 20th century were striped and white and red. So it reminded people of mattresses or ‘colchones’ and from that point on the team and it’s followers were known as ‘colchoneros.’ The team has had, over it’s 100 year history some reasonable success, winning several national championships and European titles. However, it has not been as successful as Real Madrid, their neighbors, or Barcelona. And the team itself and it’s fans have given rise to a now nationally known spirit or attitude. The reason for this is that there had been intermittent, sprinkled success but usually the wait in between titles has been long. On a couple of occasions the team lost it’s standing in the first division, ‘La Liga’ and had to drop down to the second division, what would be the minor leagues in the U.S. Like for a big team like Atlético de Madrid to drop down like that is a big deal. The history of the team is alot of success mixed with hardship and disappointment. A few years back there was a spot on television that shows this attitude, issued by the team as a promotional campaign to increase the following and season passes for the club. Purposely this commercial reflects the ‘colchonero’ spirit of living through disappointment and hardship. So you are a fan of them because it’s almost like your own personality. They emphasize that it’s almost like being a masochist because you know you’re going to be disappointed. It showed scenes after past disappointments. And at the end the son asks the dad, “Papa porque somos del Atleti?” (Dad, why do we belong to Atlético de Madrid?) That is the question that all kids, in my days it was only boys but now it’s boys and girl, ask each other, “De quien eres?” (Who do you belong to?). Every boy had to “belong” to a team.  The spirit of my team kind of represents an alternative path or approach which manifests itself often in life. We have situations in society, in politics, in business, or art where people tend to gather around what seem to be the two majority options, paths, or schools of thought but that sometimes a third alternative or way may emerge. For example in the United States, most people would identify themselves as being either republican or democratic. And now in more recent years, the Independents have gained more momentum. Even in English we would use the question “who do you belong to?” more to describe your political inclination. While in Spain, your sports allegiance is a huge factor within your identity. Although it’s not perfect, it’s a stronger predictor of a persons general attitude, mindset or view of life than sports allegiance in the United States.  I’m trying to say that a person who follows Atlético de Madrid is in general, more likely to be more a third way person in politics and other things in life. It’s an important, popular statement or way to gauge or ascertain a persons general outlook. Also, people who follow Real Madrid or Barcelona have other generalizations.”

There are several interesting facets to this description of folklore:
Firstly, the group of fans that support the national teams all have nicknames. These nicknames however are not derived from the team name or a team mascot, like many of the teams in the United States. The nicknames are based on other factors or criteria. The participant gave the example of followers of Atlético de Madrid being nicknamed, “colchoneros.” Fans of FC Barcelona are known as ‘Culés’ and those of Real Madrid are called ‘Merengues.’ Merengues comes from a” Spanish dessert, usually white, made from whipped egg-whites and sugar, and served amongst the elites.” ‘Culés’ is “Catalan for asses. People passing by their old stadium, Les Corts, would sometimes see their buttocks hanging over the side of the benches, hence the nickname for the supporters.”
These two explanations were provided by: http://www.laligaweekly.com/2010/05/la-liga-nicknames.html. The site provides some of the other nicknames for the followers of teams in ‘La Liga’ and their descriptions.

Also interesting is that there are some stereotypes surrounding the individuals depending on the national team they support. Doing some more research I was able to figure out that fans of Real Madrid have the stereotype of being wealthy and elitist. I was unable to find a ‘stereotype’ regarding the followers of Barcelona, but the team has become a symbol of Catalan pride throughout their desire to break free from the rest of Spain. Atlético de Madrid is “the 3rd club of Spain in terms of fans, although far from Barça and Madrid. The image of the club is the story of the most “unlucky” team in Spain. Atlético is the club where everything can happen and it’s always lived by big passion, the good and the bad things. This history of “losers” and compared with their neighbors have made Atlético a special club. Atlético is considered the team of the people, the team of the artists, even sometimes linked to the left in politics. They say ‘it’s easy to be madridista, but being atlético is something that can’t be explained, you have it in the blood’.” A similar explanation of Atlético de Madrid’s reputation to that of my father’s is provided above by http://www.xtratime.org/forum/showthread.php?t=145703.

Additionally the language they use surrounding sports and especially soccer is indicative of how crucial it is to their national identity. In English we ask people who they are a fan of or who which team they root for. Usually it has something to do with your geographical proximity to a particular team but not always and/or can have something to do with your family culture. However, in Spanish the question that is asked is “To whom (what team) do you belong?” It is meant to ask for whom does a person root for but they type of language that is used implies a very strong connection with a persons being and identity. Also, since the country is much smaller than the United States the rivalry may be more augmented due to the fact that the teams and fans are confined to a smaller geographical space which creates more tension. This could be compared to the rivalries between Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks in California or the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in California. Most rivalries are not cross-country, they are between teams of closer geographic proximity. But still, it seems that an individuals loyalty to one of the three national soccer teams in Spain is a much greater indicator of personality and/or political inclinations and an integral part of a citizens national identity than in any sport in the United States.

Burgers for Soccer Goals

Informant Bio: Informant is my friend from high school who also goes to the University of Southern California.  We currently live together and he is a third year electrical engineering major.  His dad is from Concord,  Massachusetts and represents a large blend of different cultures.  His mom is from upstate New York and is mostly of Hungarian, Italian and American ancestry.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions and rituals that he remembered well.


Item: “For our family and sports, if you played soccer or something, for us it was soccer and hockey, but we almost never ate fast food because our parents were healthy and against it.  But as kids, we still wanted fast food since it tasted good.  The way we would get fast food is that for every goal we scored we’d get a burger.  It worked surprisingly well (laughs)”.


Analysis: The informant shows some of the views very apparent in Massachusetts that fast food represents some of the most unhealthy food you could eat.  Although the health food craze is not as fully developed as in California, many families prefer home-cooked foods using natural, organic and locally procured goods.  There are still many farms located in our area (there are three alone within a one mile radius of my home in Massachusetts).  The rewarding with food also follows along with the informant’s recounting of his family’s graduation party tradition that heavily surrounded food and positive reinforcement as well.

Soccer: End Game Thanking

My informant stated that after his previous American coach had left, his soccer team received a new British coach that added a new ritual at the end of a game win or lose.

My informant states:

“My senior year of high school, we got a new head coach who was British. He did a lot of stuff differently than any coach I ever had. One thing that he specifically made us do was line up as a team and run the field width wise to thank every one who came to support us after the game was over. It was simply to show our gratitude to the people who came out to watch us play. I had never done anything like this with any of my previous American coaches, so it was very interesting that this was so important to my English coach. He said it was important that we thanked our fans as they came out to watch us even if we lost or won and to remember who we were playing for. This really struck me as an important ritual after, because I remember some games were not even worth watching. As a captain, my senior year, I reiterated this ritual to the younger players on my team, who had also never done such a thing. What is also interesting is that in the English Premier Leagues and even the German Bundesliga Leagues, some of the teams do a similar thing.”

My informant stated that he believed this ritual showed the difference between American and European cultures. He stated that in England, he believes that soccer is considered a gentleman’s sport, thus the players should act classy and such. He also stated that support is very important in England and that the fans break or make the team.

My analysis of this is that it was a important ritual to the coach, that he spread and wanted to continually spread throughout his regime as a coach. The fact that my informant bought in showed how important this was to both the coach and the players. It was also interestingly a ritual that became important to the players that it even hindered the game experience as my informant states that he hated to do it when he lost, thus this pushed the players to try and win.


“Before every soccer game I’ve played since I started playing AYSO, I have put my socks on starting with the right foot.  My best friend and I did it when we played AYSO.  I’m not sure if other people did it, maybe they were older than us, but we definitely always did it before every game, every time.  Even when I played club and played for the high school team, I always put my right sock on first.  It just became a habit, and I knew I would have a horrible game or something really bad would happen if I didn’t put that sock on first.  Obviously, I didn’t win every game, but it just would be wrong if I didn’t put my socks on in that order.”

Rachael told me that she put her socks on starting with her right foot ever since she started playing soccer.  Since that time, she has formed an association between putting socks on in a specific order with performing well on the soccer field.  In Rachael’s case, putting on socks is both a superstition and a tradition.  Although she said that usually only she and her best friend would put on socks in a specific order, Rachael knew older teammates that followed the same tradition.  When asked if seeing other teammates put on socks in a specific order provoked her to do the same, Rachael could not remember because she has been playing soccer since elementary school and does not know when the tradition began.

Like Rachael, many athletes have certain pre-game rituals that are associated with superstitions.  Whether it involves putting on socks, or going through a certain locker room door, or saying a certain chant three times, various teams have developed traditions that must be performed before they can play.  When an entire team has a certain ritual, it seems like that kind of activity would reinforce team unity and help the team to feel connected before they face an opponent.

In Rachael’s case, however, the rest of her team did not put on socks in a given order.  For Rachael, following this superstition made her feel more in control and like a better player.  Like she said, without the right sock order, things were “wrong.”   Even though it seems unlikely that breaking this sock tradition would actually impact Rachael’s soccer ability, it is possible that the ritual gives her the extra boost of confidence she needs to perform well on the field.  Also, performing the ritual allowed Rachael to focus on other things.  If she did not put on her right sock first, she would feel like she was not going to play well and would dwell on the sock issue instead of the game.  Thus, even though superstitions may be deemed silly or insignificant, they actually can impact they way a person thinks and feels if there is a strong belief in the superstition.