Tag Archives: basketball

Handshakes Before the Game

Information on the Informant: The informant for this particular piece of folklore is a 20 year old friend of mine who attends usc names Brian Finley. Brian is from San Diego, California and has played basketball his whole life. He recently transferred to USC this past year (2015) after spending his first year of college at Chapman University playing basketball. He is a tall and very skilled player who has traveled all around the country throughout his life playing in various tournaments. He has seen teams from many different geographical areas and how their traditions vary based on team.

From the informant:

“So essentially what happens prior to the game starting is that each team does its’ warm ups for a while and then we all sit on the bench and wait for the starting 5 players from each team to be introduced. The announcer typically says the player’s name, his position, and how tall he is. Traditionally, the starting five are sitting on the bench before they are called and the rest of the team is standing up kind of making a little pathway for the player to go through when he is announced. The player gets announced and then has to go shake hands with the opposing coach and referees. However, sometimes there is a player who stands at the end of the pathway and does a custom handshake with each starter of the team. If the players really care about the hand shake, they will practice before and each starter will have his own custom handshake that the non-starter does with him. Lots of high school, college, and professional players do it. Recently it’s become a lot more popular because a lot of pro players are making really weird handshakes that get filmed and then go viral on youtube or something.”

Analysis: Attached below I put a link of a player in the NBA, Cameron Payne, who has become popular this year because of his unorthodox handshakes before the game. Payne is a great example of a guy who has popularized this pre-game ritual and made it a more universal basketball tradition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYYXQL1hYRM

The Cutting of the Net

Information on the Informant: The informant for this particular piece of folklore is a 20 year old friend of mine who attends usc names Brian Finley. Brian is from San Diego, California and has played basketball his whole life. He recently transferred to USC this past year (2015) after spending his first year of college at Chapman University playing basketball. He is a tall and very skilled player who has traveled all around the country throughout his life playing in various tournaments. He has seen teams from many different geographical areas and how their traditions vary based on team.

Informant: ” It’s a long standing tradition in the NCAA basketball tournament that after a team wins the whole national championship, each payer and coach on the team stand on a latter and cut off a part of the net that was used in the game. The reason why the teams do this is pretty basic–it’s first off, a sign of victory but also it allows the members of the team to have a piece of the history that they created by winning the national championship.’

Me: “Do you know where the tradition started?”

Informant:” Yeah actually I do. It started in the early 1900’s at an Indiana high school which I don’t know the name of. All I know is that after one of the high schools won the state championship, their coach told them to take a piece of memorabilia into order to cherish the victory for a long time. After many years this coach became a college coach and his team won the national championship for the NCAA. After his team won, the whole team took a piece of the net and ever since then it had been a tradition to do so.”

Analysis: I have attached a video of the most recent team to win the national championship, the Villanova Wildcats, cutting down the net after winning. It is clear throughout the video that this tradition is extremely prideful and is a culmination of a very successful basketball season.

Marching Band Basketball Initiation

One USC marching band tradition that occurs basketball games is that the band will start to scream 57 when the score reaches that number.  Additionally they will taunt any player on the opposing team who has a 22 as the number on their jersey jeering “tweeeenneey twoooo, tweeennneey twoooo”

The informant explained to me that this is a tradition that plays a role in inducting new members into the band.  New members learn this tradition at the first basketball game of the season when the rest of the band starts jeering and screaming they join in.

This is a good example of a tradition based around the liminal period.  The new members are in a place where they are physically in the band, in that they are preforming with them, but they don’t yet know the traditions, so they are not yet psychologically a member of the band.  After the first game however they learn the unofficial rules of being in band and leave the game feeling more a part of the band community.

“Baller Rituals”

I’m not very original or exciting, so at least for this year, it was always taking a nap before games and practices. But to list some other ones…

Before games, always show up exactly an hour and half early to get warmed up, stretched, relaxed before the game… listen to some really pump-up music, and… before the game starts, always make two layups and a free throw. I always wore the same spandies and bra, and one teammate always took a shower before a game. I knew one girl who just had to shave her legs before each game. Even if there were multiple games in a day, she’d shave before each and every of them. One teammate always drank only red Powerade during games, and had to have an apple during the game. Most of my teammates, their superstitious things that they do are just coming in and shooting around before each game.

Most of the time it’s just because it something you know that worked in the time before another game, and then you grow into it like a habit. Like in high school I never had any of these. You take these more seriously the more serious your sport becomes. Like compare a middle school/intermediate game with NCAA sports or… the Olympics… then there’s this crazy, elaborate list of rituals, things you just do out of habit/routine.

I had a coach that used to eat a quarter pounder with cheese before the game, just to show how ridiculous these things get… I feel like in all my experience most people fall into the category of eating something or wearing something that “worked” before in the hopes that it will again.

 

How did you come across this folklore: “This is kind of a culmination of “rituals” that I’ve come across/picked up in my personal experience, over 15+ years of playing basketball at clinic, intermediate, high school varsity, and college varsity levels.”

This collection of rituals can be interpreted as protection, and both contagious and homeopathic magic. With these techniques, athletes and coaches aspire to protect themselves and their teams from loss/injury, inherit the winning properties of something that was done before and for whatever reason was attributed to victory, and induce a like outcome with a like setup.

Lucky Socks for Basketball

Click here for video.


“So I used to play basketball and when I played well I’d mark my socks, so if I played well I’d always wear the right sock on the right foot until I played bad and then I’d switch them up.”

I think this is a good example of contagious magic. According to my informant, the thinking behind this is that if he plays well with a certain sock configuration, the socks must either be causing the good performance or they must soak up some of the “mojo” of the good game and will lead to good games in the future. However, once he starts playing poorly, it’s obvious that the sock configuration has lost its magic and needs to be reconfigured. This is a way for him to relieve pressure from himself and stay calm in stressful games. If he does well, he will continue to do well thanks to his lucky socks. If he does poorly, it is not because his game is bad, but because his socks are no longer good luck socks and simply need to be changed. By rationalizing his basketball performance like this, my informant is able to stay cool and confident under pressure. Furthermore, the belief is that luck can be recycled, as long as he finds the proper order for his socks.