As an Atheist, as a human being I suppose, I pride myself on being rational and level headed. I have dismissed religion, political conspiracy theories, and aliens because there is simply no (or not enough) proof that they are real. I believe in science; I believe in what I can see, feel, and prove and nothing else.
That is until sports are involved. Especially when it comes to my beloved Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
When the Stanley Cup playoffs begin it’s like a go from being an Atheist to an Evangelical. I lose my ability to think logically and I become a slave to superstition. I suddenly find myself repeating or adjusting routines to ensure that my team has the best chance of winning. How can I possibly justify this with myself?
I don’t know and I don’t care.
What’s that you say? What I do in my home does not affect how my Bruins play on the ice in an arena hundreds of kilometres away? Blasphemy!
Last year, for the first time in my life, my superstitious ways finally worked and helped my Bruins win their first Cup in 39 years. I don’t dare say that my routines led them to the Cup but they did help.
During last years playoffs I drank my coffee from the same yellow mug every game day morning; I sat in the same spot on my couch during games; I did not watch one game with anyone other than my wife and cat; and I wore the same jersey every game – until the finals began that is.
Yes, after working their way to an Eastern Conference championship for the first time in more than twenty years I tempted fate by changing from my Bruins yellow throwback jersey to a brand new black home Bruins jersey that my wife bought me for my birthday (which was just before the finals). How did that work out you ask? My Bruins lost the first two games!
Obviously I had done something wrong but I knew better than to just run back to my throwback jersey because that would surely be seen as placating the hockey gods and they do not take to such things kindly. So instead I wore a Bobby Orr t-shirt I had been given by my brother for the same birthday.
This proved to be very shrewd move on my part as the Bruins went on to win the next two games and tie the series up. However after a game five loss I retired the Orr t-shirt and went back to the jersey that had gotten my team to the finals – the yellow throwback. The hockey gods rewarded me and my Bruins for this brilliant adjustment with resounding victories in the final two games of the series and thusly the Stanley Cup!
Perhaps you’ll dismiss my jersey habits and other routines as the work of a mad man that had no impact on the Bruins winning it all last year. Well, as Darth Vader once said – I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Need further proof that I have a direct effect on how sporting events turn out do you?
This year I have been faced with a very daunting task when it comes to the playoffs – do I assume that last year’s successful routines will work again? Will the hockey gods be appeased with the same things or do they need more? Well, I have quickly discovered that they are bastards who will not accept my thanks or last year’s habits if I want my Bruins to repeat.
It’s been made perfectly clear to me that the yellow mug is NOT acceptable this year; nor is my yellow throwback jersey; and nor is my usual spot on my couch! My whole world has been turned upside down but I do not complain, no never. I adjust and I do as I am directed.
I now drink my morning coffee from a green mug on game days (The yellow mug made sense obviously, but green? My only theory here is that the hockey gods are making an ironic joke about the number of Irish people who hail from Boston); I sit on the opposite side of the couch; and I am wearing the once deathly unlucky black jersey (after the throwback and the Orr t-shirt were rendered quite unlucky this year and my Bruins down 3-2 in the series I was forced to take a chance and put my teams fate in the hands of a jersey that had only ever been worn during playoff losses. The hockey gods were testing my faith and they rewarded me with a dramatic win in game six).
I haven’t even mentioned the other smaller scale things I will do like change which game I play during the intermission based on how my team is playing; or change which snack I’m eating if the Bruins suddenly start playing poorly; or how I won’t smack talk how other teams from other series’ are doing because I don’t want karma coming back to bite me in the ass.
It’s all crazy, it’s mad, but I can’t stop it. Karma? Fate? Hockey Gods? These are all things that I do not believe in! But here I sit, already plotting tomorrow and making sure that my green mug is clean for my morning coffee, making sure my now lucky black jersey is hung up and ready to be worn.
If this is how being faithful feels then honestly I don’t know how people do it. I find it more stressful than anything!
The depth of superstition in sports is fascinating and fun though. It adds to the events for me and while I obviously cannot rationalize my atheism with my sport based superstition I can’t help myself and I don’t see the harm.
That is until I start hating other people because they have different superstitions than I do I suppose.
Until that time, go Bruins!