“Dear lord. The
battles we go through life, we ask for a chance that’s fair. A chance to equal
our stride, a chance to do or dare. If we should win, let it be by the code,
with faith and honor held high. If we should lose, we’ll stand by the road, and
cheer as the winners go by. Day by day. We get better and better. Until we
can’t be beat. Won’t be beat. Ruthless”
This is a prayer the informant would say before every home lacrosse game with his team. He did not attend a religious school, but it was a tradition passed down from the upperclassman to perform this prayer. One player would say each line and the team would then repeat the line after them. The final portion, “Until we can’t be beat. Won’t be beat. Ruthless,” is screamed at full volume. The point of the prayer is to focus the players’ minds and get them hyped up for the upcoming game. It was only performed in home games and done so in the locker room, removed from any fans or the opposing team.
I did further
research into the origins of this prayer. It was initially a prayer used by the
University of Nebraska football team, dubbed the Husker prayer after their
mascot, the cornhusker. It is unclear when this change originated but it has
spread across high schools around the country.
This informant is my roommate who plays on USC’s lacrosse team. I asked him if there was any folk superstitions or traditions widely accepted amongst the sport or team and this is what he told me.
There’s totally two huge beliefs in lax [the “x” looks like a cross, making it la-“cross,” but it is still pronounced like “lax” in “relax”]. Players always try to have the longest “flow” and the most eye-black on their face. Flow refers to the length of someone’s hair and it gained its popularity when a player made a Youtube video about his “flow” making him a better player. I’m not really sure where the eye-black trend started, but lax was first played by the Native Americans against rival tribes, so maybe players think the eye black makes them look more like warriors. Obviously these are just superstitions but they everyone acknowledges their importance so it has become a part of the game.
Obviously these are two folk superstitions that have become popular belief in the sport of lacrosse, even though players know they aren’t true. I’m not entirely true what these beliefs say about the sport itself or the players who participate but I think my informant touched on an important topic regarding the sport’s origin. He said lacrosse was played as a game amongst rival tribes, almost like battle. In some cultures, such as the Norse, hair length was tied to manliness, so maybe the eye-black and flow became popular because it symbolizes masculinity.
My informant plays soccer and lacrosse at Allegheny College. I asked her if she knew of any of good luck charms or if there were any superstitions involved with her teammates. She humorously told me that the most popular good luck charm with her teammates on both soccer and lacrosse is to have a pair of lucky underwear that they wear for games. Also, they usually follow a routine before every game, even down to what they eat.
The most interesting routine is with Lacrosse goalies. My informant explained that, because they there is not much movement involved with their position, every move counts, so they take their routines and good luck charms very seriously. My informant had a friend that one day had two hot dogs before a game that she had played particularly well. She kept this routine up for a straight seven games, (until the team lost), just in case it might affect her game and give the team good luck.
My informant said that goalies in sports are particularly superstitious, though she thought it was more because she felt they were slightly crazy, because there are things in the game that cause the team to lose and have nothing to do with the goalie.
I found that players are more particular about clothing that they wear during the game, like ‘lucky underwear’ or as my informant told me, their spikes, or athletic gear that they wear or use. This is centered around the movement of the game, which to them is what affects their performance.
When I asked my informant if she had noticed any similarities from high school to college sports she said lucky charms in the form of sportswear were common, but that she really felt that lucky routines were more centered around the coaching staff and atmosphere surrounding the team.