Thursday, May 8, 2008

Traditions and Rituals in Sports

Traditions and rituals are everywhere in sports. You know when you go to a particular stadium or sports town and you hear someone say something like “this is what we do here”. For example, there are a few at Chavez Ravine that have been going on for as long as I can remember. One being that the wave always starts in the Pavilion. Sure, I bet someone has a story about one particular game they were attending and some other section started it. Trust me, the Pavilion starting it is the norm. Yeah, I know – the wave isn’t so popular with a lot of fans. I’m not touting its pros or cons, just stating a fact about what fans usually start it up at the Ravine.

Another tradition for Dodgers fans that has emerged happens when they win a game. We all stand there at the end of the game and sing “I Love L.A.” by Randy Newman while the words flash across the scoreboard. While this is definitely not one of my favorite songs, I always welcome it at the stadium. Rollin’ down Imperial Highway…

Athletes have fun traditions, or rituals, as well. Have you ever seen Nomar Garciaparra at bat?

Although I grew up in Los Angeles, I went to college in Florida and discovered the sports traditions of the Tampa Bay area. At Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers play, firing the cannons from the pirate ship when the Bucs get in the red zone or score is a very cool tradition. The only damper put on it was when former QB Brad Johnson asked them not to fire them so many times. Now we get one shot when they’re inside the 20 and one for every point scored. I say since Brad is gone they should bring back the excessive firing!

The Detroit Red Wings NHL team has an interesting tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice. Apparently, this originated in 1952 when the finals were 8 games long. I’ve seen people smuggle beach balls to throw around a stadium, but an octopus?

I found others putting their favorite/required traditions and rituals online also. listed the worst tradition in sports to be “referee discretion”. I think they might have a case there. I know that the Orlando Magic are likely in agreement that this is a bad tradition, especially when it includes the use of archaic rules.

I’ve met fans that have to wear their lucky jersey/socks/underwear/etc. for certain games. Growing up in my house, the tradition when watching sports was to walk away from the television while the game was on. At least that was my father’s favorite. He was convinced that if the Dodgers/Rams/Raiders/Lakers started to fall behind, they would continue to lose if he kept watching. If he walked away and they scored and got ahead, he would say, “See, I told you!” This behavior would only be reinforced if they fell out of the lead while he was in the room.

What are some of your favorite sports traditions/rituals?

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