Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Towels, Superstition, and Sports

Athletes in many sports have rituals or superstitions that guide their actions to maintain optimal performance, defeat opponents, and above all ensure victory. While players of baseball and hockey are generally considered the most superstitious, bowling is not immune to irrational beliefs. For example the three most common bowling superstitions are 1) to continue a winning streak, wear the same clothes; 2) the number 300, a perfect score, on your license plate will increase your score; 3) carrying charms on your bowling bag, in your pockets, or around your neck for good luck. While these three are pretty tame compared to baseball and hockey where athletes have urinated on their hands to avoid calluses (Moises Alou, NY Mets & Jorge Posada, NYY), brushed their teeth and chewed licorice between every inning (Turk Wendell, MLB-retired), wore necklaces adorned with trophies from animals they have killed, including mountain lion claws and the teeth of wild pigs and buffalo (Also Wendell), and dipped the blades of hockey sticks into toilets before games (Bruce Gardiner, Ottawa Senators). They are no less important than the ones used by bowlers to boost confidence and appease the bowling gods.

Last night we conducted our first ritual as a team to break our losing streak (no we did not dip our bowling balls in the toilet). We participated in the ritual killing and abandonment of the purple Rockies play-off towel. For weeks we have been losing so last night we drew the conclusion that the slump began with the Rockies losing the playoffs. After they were beat our next game was one the worst performances in movement history (also the first appearance of the towel). After last week, when we went 3-1, there was some talk of trading Todd as we seem to win we he leaves town. Todd, however, is not the problem as Todd has generally carried the team this year and has put up some monster games (e.g., 226). Last night Joe D and I recognized that Todd carried the towel. And then it hit us like a ballistic missile, it’s not Todd it’s the towel, the terrible towel. The bad karma that had cursed the towel at the Rockies losing game had traveled to Laramie and cursed the movements. This left us with only one option, destroy the towel. Our first thought was to burn it, just like you would burn a witch or any other evil thing. Unfortunately, some genius decided it was wise to make flame-retardant towels, so our ritual burning of the towel in the parking lot was a failure. So although not ideal, we did the next best thing, abandon the towel on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks where it can be ripped to shreds by an oncoming locomotive.
Although many don’t believe in superstitions the power is in belief – confidence that the ritual will bring victory and success. I am confident that the removal of this evil will indeed allow us to break the slump.

6 comments:

  1. I NEED my red towel, man. Without it, I'd suck even worse...

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  2. Trust me E.B. if your red towel was used in a losing playoff game you would not want it.

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  3. Nice one, Rook. I know I felt much much better after that towel was gone. Unfortunately, I've got two more at home. We might have to put them through a meat grinder or tie them to a migrating goose.

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  4. Whatever you do don't put them close to your bowling bag/equipment.

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  5. Wait: you guys didn't dip your bowling balls in the toilet?! Maybe Todd should be more careful who he lends the Green Lady to....

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  6. Never even used the red towel once last night (except to wipe up sweat, blood, and tears...) (is that sad or what?).

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