The Baton

Main Piece: The Baton

The following was a story told to me by a friend of mine, AA, in my Anthropology lab, and I am DM. The story was about track runners who swore by a folk belief.

AA: When I was in high school, I ran track. One of the first things I learned running track was to not drop the baton. In a race, if one were drop the baton during practice, it was considered back luck. It was said that if dropped in practice, one would drop it in the actual race. The way to get rid of the bad luck after dropping in practice was to run a mile for every time dropped. So if you dropped it twice, you would need to run two miles.


The participant is eighteen years old in her first year of college at the University of Southern California. She is American. In my Anthropology lab, we were sharing folklore with one another for our final project and AA decided to share with us a belief she has as a track runner.

DM: How do you know this belief?

AA: I ran track in high school.

DM: Why did you believe dropping the baton would give you bad luck?

AA: Because it happened to me (laughs).

DM: Where did you learn this from?

AA: I learned this from my track coach.

DM: What does dropping the baton mean to you?

AA: If someone dropped the baton, we were going to lose our next race. We already knew. It was like it was a for sure thing.

Analysis/ My Thoughts:

A week’s worth of lectures, for my Anthropology class, was all about folk belief or folk superstition. We went around the class and mentioned some people’s superstitions like if you drop salt it’s bad luck or to keep from jinxing yourself you knock on wood. This is a form of folk belief/ superstition because they were convinced that dropping the baton was the only reason to lose the race. This goes to show that superstitions do not have any boundaries because it even goes into sports as well as other things. Some other superstitions in sports are like lucky shoes, lucky socks, or even lucky shorts. This baton dropping is not lucky, but it is a form of superstition.