Sports Ritual – Las Vegas, NV

In high school, Aaron played the position of goaltender for his lacrosse team. Before each game, as a ritual, he would write on a slip of paper “A-game.” He would then stick it in his jock strap right before a game so he could say he brought his A-game to the game.

Aaron performed this sports ritual as a way to bring him luck. He believed that he would, in fact, perform better if he fulfilled this sports ritual before each game. He thought he would play his “A-game” if he did this. He said that he did not necessarily perform flawlessly every single game, but he kept doing it because he thinks he probably would have performed even worse had he not done this ritual. Aaron did not borrow this idea from somewhere else; he had not heard of anyone else doing it. He made it up himself and made it into his own pre-game ritual.

Rituals, or at least sports rituals, tend to be superstitious. Aaron felt compelled to write “A-game” on a slip of paper and put it in his jock strap because he felt it really would help him perform better in his lacrosse game. He felt like a better goalie. He never deviated form this practice because he did not want to suffer the disastrous consequences and be a terrible goalie.

This ritual made me laugh because I had never heard of men sticking pieces of paper into their jock straps before games as a way to bring them luck and/or perform better. However, I felt bad for laughing because Aaron takes it very seriously. He will not go a single game without this slip of paper in his jock strap.

I think this ritual is interesting because it invites discussion about beliefs. Some people might be skeptical; they might laugh and say that the “A-game” slip of paper has no affect whatsoever on his performance as a goalie. They might say that it is all mental: he just feels more confident when he has the slip of paper, so he plays better as a result of feeling confident and of feeling like he can and will do well, not necessarily because of the slip of paper at all. However, others who also have sports pre-game rituals might completely agree with Aaron. They just feel the need to fulfill these rituals regardless of whether or not others regard it as all mental. To them, their better performance is tied to this ritual; they cannot do well without it. Then, there are all the people who kind of believe the ritual is tied to performance, but also kind of believe their performance is tied to their mental state of mind and the slip of paper helps induce that confident state of mind.