A spooky superstitious sports season

Michael Giles

Skeleton basketball player wiping the sole of his shoe for good luch
(Graphic Illustration by Kieran Lavtar | The Collegian)

As Halloween approaches, we want to shed light on the superstitious side of sports that frequently gets skipped over. A lot goes into sports, including tireless hours of training, determination and strength; however, rarely denoted are the superstitions some teams partake in before a game.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a superstition is “a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck or a practice based on such a belief.”


Superstitions are oftentimes considered irrational practices done before or during a game that are attributed to why a sports team did so well or not the best during a game. These superstitions turn into repeated practices or rituals before a game for success. Below is a list of some sports superstitions you may not have known about these specific fall sports.

1. Baseball superstitions 

One of the most common rituals practiced in baseball is that players will sleep with their bats for better luck the night before a game. The baseball bat is a baseball player’s most precious device to play the game (second to their helmet for safety). In a superstitious way, this will bless their bat before going onto the field to take on a game the next day. This practice can also help end a streak of bad hits or misses or help a player keep their incredible hitting streak.

Other baseball superstitions include

  • Placing gum on the back of baseball caps before a game
  • Stepping on one of the bases at the end of an inning before leaving the field

2. Basketball superstitions 

One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan, is a very trendy topic when it comes to superstitions in basketball. Jordan would often wear his University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts during their games to increase their luck of winning. LeBron James also practices slapping chalk powder on his hands and tossing it in the air. 

Other basketball superstitions include

  • Wiping the soles of shoes before a game 
  • Wearing lucky headbands 

3. Soccer superstitions 

Some soccer teams believe that keeping the same bench seating arrangements is vital in order to continue a winning streak or to generate luck for their team. Keeping similar circumstances as the ones that happened during a great game is essential for maintaining superstitions.

Other soccer superstitions include

  • Players not washing their socks from winning games
  • Not changing winning underwear 

Finally, the actual benefit of superstition or ritual for a player is the boost in confidence and sense of control it brings, so if a professional athlete believes practicing a certain action or behavior will improve their performance, they should do so.

Reach Michael Giles at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Michaelrenee10.