Tag Archives: Sports

Boston College Football Cheer

Context: The informant is my brother in law (BC). He studied at Boston College and was a big fan of the football team. The following ritual is performed in the student section of the football stadium and both he and I have participated in it.

Main Text: BC: “At every home football game at BC it was a tradition or a ritual to throw someone up in the air every time the Eagles scored. You would throw the person up in the air, like they were crowd surfing, as many times as there were points up on the board for us. So if Boston College scored the first points with a touchdown, you’d throw the person up 7 times while everyone counts them out. It was a really fun thing we did but I’m not sure how it started, it’s probably been around for a while.”

Analysis: Football is a sport that’s full of traditions and camaraderie; teamwork and community are a huge part of the sport. This ritual at Boston College emulates the sense of community that both a college and a football team can create within a group of people. It is a great way to make the crowd feel like they are a part of the game and adds to the excitement of the Eagles scoring. I visited my sister and my now brother in law at Boston College when I was younger and I was lucky enough to be thrown up in the air when the Eagles scored. It is a memory I won’t soon forget.

Hell week

Transcribed straight from my informant:

Main piece:

So hell week is a time in the summer, like one of the last weeks before school starts. It’s when the fall sports teams basically have an intense week of working out and preparation for the upcoming season. In my experience, it was water polo, but people usually think of football.

Usually, its multiple hours–up to 5 or 6– of working out, in the pool for me or weight training. It’s just really intense, and they’re just testing out our skills, meaning there was nothing to lose if we were sore because there was no season yet. They have always been doing that, and it’s terrible and scary. It’s an entire week of five hours every day, I hate it.

Background/context:

My little brother told this to me as we sat together casually after I asked him about his folklore. He has been playing club water polo competitively for at least 4 years now, and he takes the sport very seriously. He is a jock. He is in an all-boy’s high school that is known nationwide for its excellence in sports.

Thoughts/analysis:

My school also had hell week, and I think it’s a pretty common concept for athletes, at least in American culture. I think the better you are at a sport, the more intense this becomes as it is also intended to pressure the athletes psychologically, bad as it sounds.

Playoff Haircuts

In high school sports, playoffs are consistently a big deal and represent a payoff for hard work and a good record during the sports season. This form folklore is both a folk practice and afterward, a folk object. The practice is giving certain haircuts during the time after the regular season but before playoffs begin. These are not normal haircuts but wild ones with different patterns and styles. Some of them include mohawks, bald heads, bowl cuts, words shaved into heads, monk haircuts, old man haircuts, and a plethora of others. They are not set haircuts but rather up to the imagination. This practice is similarly performed in other high schools across the United States, sometimes with other variations.

This folk practice is traditionally done by the upperclassmen within a team. The lowerclassmen get worse haircuts while the upperclassmen get better ones. In this way, it is a form of hazing. The informant said that the haircuts are typically shaved off or bettered once the playoff streak end because they are only to remain during the postseason. They learned it from the upperclassmen when they were younger and then performed this practice as an upperclassman. This is only typically done on varsity sports. The sports observed to do this include baseball, football, lacrosse, and some others. They remember it wholly fondly, even as a lower classman. It is not meant to be malicious but more a harmless rite of passage because it makes the kids feel like more of a coherent group. Another instance of this at different schools include bleaching the team’s hair during playoff time.

It seems to me that this sometimes is about a dynamic of power. Younger kids may be intimidated into doing this, but other kids may enjoy it because they are a part of a larger group and help self-identify with that. It is a physical way of making teammates more similar and improves as the kids get older, causing interest to do it for the first time.

The Commemoration of Atatürkü

Main Piece

The following comes from dialogue between myself, GK, and the informant, AT. 

AT: One of my favorite Turkish holidays is called “Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramî”, which translates to “Youth and Sports Day”. I like it because it is one of the most relaxing days of the year. Work is cancelled, school is cancelled, and everyone just goes outside and enjoys life. 

GK: What day does it fall on?

AT: It is celebrated on May 19. 

GK: How do you and your family usually celebrate the holiday?

AT: My brother and I usually go play soccer with our friends in the morning. Then we’ll usually go on a hike with our parents. And cook some dinner out side after. It’s a really great day to unwind and enjoy with friends and family. 

Background: The informant knows of this holiday by living in Istanbul for 13 years. His family would always celebrate it as it was a national holiday. And although he doesn’t live there anymore, he still chooses to celebrate it because he loves the holiday so much.

Context: The informant and I discussed this holiday over Face Time

My Thoughts: In my opinion, this holiday serves a great purpose in Turkish culture because it gives people the day to relax and spend time with their families. After doing some reserch, it looks like this holiday originated in 1938. It celebrates the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and his arrival in Samsun on May 19, 1919.  It celebrates youth and sports due to the wish of Atatürk, who loved sports growing up. 

Stick Ball

Main Piece: 

Informant: One of the games our Choctaw people play is called “ishtaboli,” also known as stickball. While it is a game, the name is roughly translated into “little brother of war” because we would often play this game between tribal communities to settle disputes.

Interviewer: What was the game like:

Informant: It is played with each player having 2 “kabocca’s” or sticks. There is a webbing on the end, similar to modern day lacrosse sticks. Long ago, we would play these games between tribal communities, which may be 3-5 miles apart. Each community would have a tall pole in the center of their village and the winner would be the first team to throw a small leather ball and hit the pole. 

Interviewer: 5 miles apart!!! That’s a long way!

Charles: Yes, and sometimes the game would go for days until someone scored. Many tribes had similar games, but this is how the Choctaw played.

Background:

The informant is a Choctaw man in his early 50’s. He was born in Texas and grew up in Oklahoma. He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife and children.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my father. My dad and I decided to have cigars in the back yard and I asked if he could share a few stories regarding our Native culture. I’ve grown up learning about these many traditions but asked him to explain them as if sharing with someone unfamiliar with the culture.

Thoughts: 

In a way, it is reminiscent of the world olympics and how sports can be used to bring people together. Stickball allowed an outlet to settle disputes without turning toward bloodshed. There was still warfare amongst indigenous people groups, so reality played was not as idealistic; but it was a model to strive for. It is interesting to see how integral sports have been to culture and society in its many variations. Lacrosse finds its origins in the Native American game of stickball.

Ultimate Frisbee Lingo

Main Piece:

J is a member of USC’s ultimate frisbee team. In Ultimate Frisbee there are many terms that are used during a game to talk about strategy, they are:

“Laying Out” is when you jump forward and go parallel to the ground to catch the disk

A “Bid” is when someone jumps to get a disk

A “Blade” is a frisbee that’s thrown really vertically

“Bookends” are when you block the disc from being caught by the other team, then you catch it to score a point

“Cutter” is the catcher, “handler” is the thrower

“Chilly” is what you say when you want someone to calm down and not just throw the disc immediately.

Context:

J is a sophomore at USC and a member of USC’s Ultimate Frisbee club team. He has competed on this team for two years and enjoys the sport very much. This was taken from a text chat with him discussing ultimate frisbee.

Thoughts:

While at USC I had played with the Ultimate team for one semester before quitting to focus on other things. One thing I hadn’t learned are the terms above. I find that they would definitely be confusing to any new fan or player that has not heard of them before. The only term I knew from J’s list is “Chilly”. During one of the games I played in my one semester on the team, I remember people saying “Chilly” right people got the disc, and I was unfamiliar with what it mean. However, since it sounds similar to “chill” like “chill out” I understood that it meant to calm down. Other terms don’t make much sense to a new player like a “Bookend” for instance. How would one know that it is a term for blocking a disc? I think that this language reflects the culture of Ultimate Frisbee and its uniqueness as a sport as a whole.

Peppering

Context: The informant is a current junior at Cal Poly SLO. She plays volleyball at the intramural level and has been playing volleyball since middle school.  The following is an interview between me (DM) and the informant (EM)

EM: Peppering is a warm up drill between two to three players as a warmup drill where the people pass the ball to each other in different variations of bump, set, and spike.

DM: What version are you most experienced with?

EM: The version I’m used to includes two players. It starts when one member passes the ball to the other. That second person sets it to the first and the first spikes it to the second. Once spiked, the roles are interchanged and the cycle starts again.

DM: What other versions are there?

EM: Although the way I explained is the most common version, as long as you maintain the order of bump, set, and spike, you could call it peppering. It could be with a net in between or just in a circle, you can pepper almost anywhere.

DM: Why is it called peppering and where did you first learn about it?

I’m not too sure why this drill is called peppering though, it was just something I was taught. I learned about it in my freshman year of high school on my varsity volleyball team from my coach.

Thoughts: I’m curious about why the drill is called peppering. It shows the resourcefulness of volleyball players since volleyball nets aren’t as common and since volleyball normally requires many people to play normally. Since they aren’t able to always have a court, the concept of peppering adapts to where and how many people are available.

Track Team Superstition

Context: The informant had been speaking of memories with her track team in high school.

Piece:

Informant: Yeah so, there was this like consp.. I don’t even fucking know… okay so basically my coach said that if you ever like dropped the baton, like the relay baton during track practice that like that for sure you were like you were like… I don’t know something about the relay… and the actual race was gonna get super messed up. And so if you dropped the baton you always got severely punished on the team and one time this girl Maya dropped the baton and then the coach made the whole team run two miles because she like takes it super seriously and apparently that’s the only way to cancel it and uh. The weird thing was that it wasn’t even that if you dropped the baton during practice you were gonna drop the baton during the actual race it was just that something is gonna go wrong like nobody knows what. Usually it was about somebody being injured or like someone going down and have an injury if the baton was dropped in practice.

Collector: Um so did you like…

Informant: So I never dropped the baton before but it was always really scary and I knew the punishment was gonna be something really ridiculous if someone did it um and plus um because of the fact that our coach believe that if your dropped the baton it resulted in someone being injured, everybody would be on edge for the track meet after a practice where someone dropped the baton. So it was kinda like an extra pressure added. So it made it that I was on the relay team freshman year and we never dropped the baton.

Background: The informant, a 19 year old USC student, ran for the track team in high school. This piece reflects the beliefs she shared with her team. This belief also helped push her as an athlete and created a sense of camaraderie within her team.

Analysis: This superstition is a homeopathic superstition, as it follows the “like produces like” ideology. If the baton is dropped (which is considered bad) then a team member will get injured (also considered bad). But once they run laps (which is good for athletic ability) then the predicted injury is reversed (also good). This belief amongst her track team is a piece of shared knowledge that connected the team. This idea provided standards for the team and brought the team together through the common goal of safety. This also is a sort of preventative measure against injury, which is incredibly important for sports. What is particularly interesting is that the coach enforced this shared superstition through punishment. Superstitions typically are an individual choice, but in this case the team felt obligated to do so and almost forced into believing the superstition. This piece shows the power of sharing beliefs with others and how it affects an environment/group of people. It also enforces a core value of American society which is success, and by believing and following through with this superstition, the team is led to success.

I got singles in my britches

Text

I got singles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got singles in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got singles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got doubles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got doubles in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got doubles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got tipples in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got triples in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got triples in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got home runs in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got home runs in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got home runs in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah  

 

Background

The informant use to sing this song at her soft ball games. They would use this song as a way to not only boost their own morale, but to also intimidate the other team. The song made her feel proud of herself and proud of her team.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in Newport beach where she attended a nice public school.

 

Thoughts

This song boosted the team’s morale, as the informant said it did, but it also gave them a way of feeling like they were truy apart of a group. It was a way to separate them from the other team. Knowing the song was also a way of separating themselves from people who did not play softball or baseball and may not know the song or even what “singles” or “doubles” mean.

 

Pre-game ritual: Goalies

 

Main Piece

Informant: Before every game starts, when I am in the crease, I’ll tap the right post with the handle of my stick and the left post with the blade end.

Background:  The informant is my brother. He is a senior at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There he plays goalie for the club hockey team and has been playing at a club level for well over a decade. He first learned of this superstition through his first goalie coach. He has done this act before every game he remembers playing in. For the informant, the act has become less superstition as he has gotten older. Still, the informant continues this ritual as it has become second nature in his mind. The interview took place over the phone and was recorded for transcription.

Context: The informant will do this act around 30 seconds before the game starts. The informant has been a committed teammate and goalie for the better portion of two decades.

Analysis: Sports are ripe with pre-game superstition and rituals, just like this one. Hockey goalies are especially habitual in the pre-game routines. Whether it be tapping the post with their stick, eating a certain meal or throwing up before the game (Yes, that one is true). However, this is not restricted to only hockey or goalies themselves. Players of all positions in all sports have their own specific pre-game rituals. (For a list a list of similar superstitions of professional athletes, please see Jeff Mclane’s 2008 article, For The Eagles, Superstition Is The Way (TCA Regional News)). Specific to this piece, I found the transition from superstitious behavior to second-nature for the informant interesting. While it might have started out as a superstitious pre-game ritual intended to bring good look for the upcoming game, it has since morphed into an acknowledgement of origin for the informant. The informant does not continue this ritual because he feels it will bring him good luck. He does so because he became the goalie he is today through tapping each post. When the informant continues this tradition, he is reminding himself of everything he has been through to get to where he is.