You sit in your lucky spot on the couch, wearing socks and boxer shorts bearing your favourite team’s logo. The players haven’t shaved in weeks, and Florida Panther fans are again tossing plastic rats onto the ice.
Yes, it’s NHL playoff season: when irrational superstitions take hold.
Kinesiology professor Terry Eddy, who touches upon fan behaviour in his Sport Management and Leadership classes, writes in a recent article in The Conversation about how superstitious behaviour ramps up during the playoffs.
“Superstitions help us feel like we have some control over the uncontrollable,” Dr. Eddy writes. “There have only been a handful of academic studies on fan superstition, but the findings tend to be consistent. By engaging in superstitions, fans feel as if they’re doing their part to help the team.”
Eddy says superstitions and rituals can benefit athletes.
“For some athletes, superstitions aren’t just meaningless, irrational behaviours; they can have positive effects on mental state and performance,” he says. “Superstitions can boost confidence and sense of control, as well as reduce anxiety.”
The Conversation publishes news and views academics and researchers. Read Eddy’s article, Plastic Rats and Playoff Beards, here.