Clothing Superstitions in Sports

Background: The informant is a 22 year old male currently living in San Luis Obispo, California. He attended CalPoly-SLO and is currently working as a manager for a boy and girls volleyball club. He played volleyball and basketball throughout high school, and played and coached volleyball while in college.

Context: The informant shared the information over the phone when talking about his new job and was asked about superstitions in sports.


Me: So, throughout your career with volleyball, did you notice any superstitions that followed you?

WC: Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s a lot of good luck charms in sports. For example, like, players will wear the same clothes for every game. A lot wear the same jersey every single time, instead of switching out for a newer one, Also, they, like, wear the same socks for every game.

Me: Why would they do that?

WC: It’s believed that if you, someone, wins with a certain piece of clothing then that will bring them good luck in the upcoming games and season. So, like, if you take off that piece of clothing, you will be bringing bad luck onto yourself.

Me: Did you participate in it?

WC: Yeah, most people I know do. I always wore the same jersey for every game, and if I played different sports, I would try to get the same number for good luck. It reminds me of, like, if a sports team is doing really well, and then you turn on the TV and start watching them, and then they start doing bad, it feels like “Oh, I caused them to do bad” so you’ll turn off the game. Or, like [friends] attended a few baseball games and the team lost every time. So, it felt like they were the bad luck charm for the team and that they shouldn’t go to games anymore. 


Informant: As the informant has both participated and heard about the tradition, it is clear that he believes in the good luck superstition placed onto the objects.

Mine: The function of the jerseys and the socks is basically a lucky charm for the team. It’s interesting because it shows how a piece of clothing can be obtained with no meaning, but once the team starts winning, the clothing slowly gains the lore of being good luck. And, the object doesn’t solely affect the individual wearing it but affects the whole team, like it’s a large net of good luck. It likely provides a sense of safety and solace for the players, especially if they are heading into a nerve wracking match, at least they have their good luck charm to rely on. It’s similar to how people may pray to God before a match, but in this case, it’s “praying” to an object. In addition, good luck and bad luck can be imbued into a person. However, it seems more like assigning blame to someone else, rather than the team itself, who was the one performing in the game. Yet, this does keep morale strong in the team.