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Friday Food for Thought: Superstition edition

When is it time to change things up in the name of karma?


Welcome to Friday Food For Thought, the weekend conversation starter. Each week, this article presents a topic for debate. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also be included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.

College sports fans can be quite superstitious when it comes to the teams they love. I have found this to be particularly true for Carolina fans. Whether it is the clothes we wear during games, the beverages we consume, or the knick-knacks we need by our sides, there is no doubt that the outcome of a game can be determined by the collective mannerisms of each individual fan.

Of course, this truism is frequently called into question when watching a recorded or even slightly time delayed game. Nevertheless, the universe must know our quirks.

The question today isn’t whether or not it is proper to have game day superstitions. Today’s topic isn’t about the effectiveness of such tendencies. No, today presents the issue of change.

Issue: How frequently should game-watching habits be changed? Two possibilities are presented below but input is welcome for the myriad of options that readers support.

1. Point

Even in a debate format, some truths are simply unassailable. Virginia is not a good tournament basketball team. The “lunch pail” is not as annoying as the “turnover chain” but it has definitely jumped the shark at this point. Game-day habits can never be changed when the team is in the midst of a win streak.

Does this mean that a fan should wear the same underwear for every game during a win streak? Not unless the underwear has some special meaning to the fan. Superstitions are all about where the individual fan places value toward turning the cosmic forces in favor of their team. For me, it is the combination of visor, shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, beverage, and beverage container (as well as the occasional location/seating change and whatever other quirks I feel are needed).

Superstitions, however, do not cross over between seasons nor are they the same for different sports. Why should the charms that are used to help make free throws be the same as those needed to kick field goals? Turnovers are not the same in football and basketball so how can the energy summoned to achieve one be the same?

The same is also true for different seasons. A great deal of space has been spent previously in this article discussing the different eras of Carolina basketball under Roy Williams and the differences in the teams from year to year. Sports teams have different strengths and weaknesses from year to year and thus require different levels and types of support. Much like the coaches, as fans our job is to find the right combination for maximum success. We have a season to perfect the recipe, and then it is back to the drawing board.

2. Counterpoint

We can all agree that when the team is losing, something has to change. That is as true on the field as it is in the living room. For example, whatever item one believes directly correlates to Larry Fedora’s in-game coaching decisions should be very different this year than it was last year.

If there is success over the long run, however, then change can be unwise or even dangerous. Many Carolina fans have their anti-Duke ensemble. It gets broken out every year and continues to achieve an equilibrium with the forces of evil.

Whoever among us altered their NCAA Tournament traditions from last year to this is directly responsible for the single game force that was Texas A&M.

Players have a limited time on the court or the field but fans do not lose their eligibility. Sure there can be minor tweaks to the uniform and single game anomalies, but the fight should remain the same throughout a die-hard’s career. Changing things up just because there is a new group of athletic participants undermines the true worth of each and every fan.

At its core, a sports superstition assumes that there is a certain power wielded by the individual watching in the stands or in their home. If someone is broadly pleased with the results, then there is no need for variety. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Drink Pairing

In need of encouragement to debate – The Mrs. broke out the family whiskey sour recipe over the weekend and it was delicious as always. Empty one can of frozen lemonade in a pitcher. Refill the can with bourbon, such as Jim Beam, and add to the pitcher. A can and a half is acceptable. Two cans is asking for trouble. Add three cans of water and stir.

Can debate without assistance Ginger ale is great with bourbon but is also excellent on its own. Although Seagram’s vs. Canada Dry could be the subject of its own debate, both are great.