Sweater Vests and Slicked Back Hair for Basketball Luck

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“When I was playing basketball and we had a winning streak going my coach wore the same sweater vest and even had the same slicked back hairstyle until we lost.”

My informant told me that his coach had a repertoire of sweater vests and hairstyles that he cycled through over the course of a season. Apparently, the thinking is that if things are going well and everything stays the same, then things should continue to go well. The coach would also refuse to wash his sweater vests until the end of the season, treating luck as something tangible that clung to his sweater vests and could be easily washed off.

This belief ties closely with a Chinese belief. On Chinese New Year, parents tell their children not to wash their hair because it will wash away the good luck for the coming year.

People enjoy correlating a spurt of good luck with common items such as clothing because it implies that luck is a force that can be controlled and called upon when needed.

The origin of such beliefs may be centered on the fact that with repetition, people tend to improve at a task. So when a favorite shirt is worn often, a person may believe that it is the article of clothing that improves his “luck.” In actuality, it may be the extra practice that accounts for his improvement.