Cross country good luck charm


CM reports that when he ran cross country in high school, he and his fellow runners would keep the bibs from previously won races as good luck charms. He explains that this practice was celebratory, to keep a trophy of achievement to look back on and remember fondly. However, beyond being a trophy, CM says that saving these bibs, which have a chip inside that records the time of the run, serves as a good luck charm for future races.


CM is a male college student at USC. For this interview, he was asked to describe good luck charms for sports and exercises he does.


CM’s practice of keeping race bibs as good luck charms serves as a good example of homeopathic magic, a form a sympathetic magic based on the principle that “like produces like.” In this context, the race bibs, imbued both with the mental memory (the runner’s recollection) and physical memory (the chip inside) of past victories, possess an inherent quality that can influence the outcome of future races. As technology advances, the way we practice and observe sympathetic magic evolves as well. The chip is a sort of digitial sympathetic magic, one that forever preserves one’s victory, which serves as the facet for influencing future races; success is reified by the chip and can be physically possessed by the runners. This practice makes sense in a field such as cross country, where much can be outside of one’s control, and where it is imperative to have continued, repeated wins in order to have success in the sport.