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The 9 Craziest Sports Rituals

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For as arrogant as professional athletes can appear, their strong belief in superstitions suggests they don't have as much faith in their abilities as they'd like us to believe.

Most athletes have some kind of ritual they go through before playing a game, which can be as simple as putting on their equipment in a certain order or eating a specific food. But some people take their compulsions to an extreme, whether it's a player, a team's fans, or a whole sport. Here are 9 of the craziest sports rituals out there.

  1. Avoiding a pitcher while he's got a no-hitter going

    Baseball players are a very superstitious lot. And when there's a history-making no-hitter on the line, they try to ensure that they won't be the ones to jinx it. During a game, if a pitcher has a no-hitter going, it's common etiquette to avoid the pitcher as much as possible. This means not talking to them in the dugout, not giving them a pat on the butt (or whatever it is baseball players do), and definitely not mentioning the fact that they are pitching a no-hitter. In some cases, it's gone as far as broadcasters at the game refusing to mention the no-hitter until the game was over.

  2. Eating grass

    Even some coaches have rituals to bring their team to victory. Les Miles, the head coach of the Louisiana State University football team, likes to eat grass from the field before each game. He says it is a humbling tradition and lets him know that he is a part of the field and the game. And somehow that it's good luck for the LSU Tigers. Apparently, not all field turf is created equal, because Miles definitely has his favorites, with LSU's own stadium at the top of the list. The groundskeepers must've known about his superstition and decided to grow extra tasty grass.

  3. Drinking blood

    As a boxer, you probably have to have a taste for blood, but no one took it literally until Sugar Ray Robinson. He revealed in his autobiography that he drank beef blood before each match as a vitamin supplement. Maybe someone should've pointed him in the direction of a GNC store. Despite being really gross, the blood seems to have done the trick because Robinson had a legendary career that lasted 25 years, with only 19 losses and more than 100 wins by knockout. It's customary in some cultures to consume animal blood, but it's normally out of necessity or taste rather than superstition.

  4. Throwing an octopus on the ice

    Luckily for the cephalopods, this tradition in Detroit of throwing an octopus onto the ice hockey rink only happens during the playoffs. It began in the '50s when the Detroit Red Wings were in the playoffs and when it took eight playoff victories to take the title. The owners of a fish market thought the octopus's eight arms were a good symbol of the wins their team was going to pull off, so they threw one onto the rink. The Red Wings went on to sweep the playoffs, and the octopus has been a good luck charm ever since. Each time the team plays a home game during the playoffs, there are several octopuses tossed on the ice. One year, someone even managed to throw a huge 35-pound octopus onto the ice.

  5. Growing a beard for playoffs

    Hairy men win more sports games, or at least that seems to be the theory behind the tradition of growing beards for the playoffs. As far as anyone can tell, the superstition was started by the New York Islanders hockey team in the '80s. Some say it is a way to show your team unity or a reminder of the task at hand from the moment you wake up in the morning. Others say it came about by accident because players were too busy to shave. Players don't shave until they are eliminated from the Stanley Cup championship or they win. They can, however, trim it after a loss to try to turn their luck around. The tradition has now spread to many other sports, including football, basketball, and baseball, though it's not as prevalent as it is within hockey.

  6. Peeing on your hands

    This revolting practice doesn't happen very often, but there are at least two baseball players who believe it helps their game. Moises Alou and Jorge Posada have both revealed that you don't want to shake their hands during baseball season. Neither wear gloves while batting; instead, they urinate on their hands because they believe it gives them a better grip and toughens their hands up. There are apparently lots of people in the world who believe in this kind of urine therapy, but they say the urea in urine actually softens hands rather than making them harder. In fact, urea's used in moisturizing lotions, but don't try to tell the baseball players that. Their superstitions are greater than science.

  7. Giving your hockey stick a swirly

    When Bruce Gardiner of the Ottawa Senators hockey team started his rookie year in a slump, he didn't know what to do about it. For normal people, the answer would probably be to practice more or run more plays with teammates, but for the superstitious hockey crowd, this wasn't enough. One of Gardiner's teammates told him that he was treating his hockey stick too well and needed to humble it. To do this, Gardiner started dunking his hockey stick in the toilet before every game to teach it some respect. His no-scoring streak ended, so he continued the practice for the rest of his career whenever he needed a little luck on his side.

  8. Brushing your teeth between innings

    Turk Wendell, a relief pitcher for the New York Mets for more than five seasons, is probably the most superstitious athlete in history. His antics during games made him a fan favorite, but also confused the audience. Wendell would take huge leaps over the baseline, crouch down if his catcher was standing, and only start an inning if he got a wave from his center fielder. But his craziest ritual was the fact that he would pitch with four pieces of licorice in his mouth to chew on. After each inning, he would spit out the licorice, brush his teeth, and then put in four more sticks before pitching again.

  9. Touching anyone who touches you

    It's almost certain that Kevin Rhomberg has OCD that makes him incredibly superstitious. The former Cleveland Indian had a compulsion that meant whenever someone touched him, he had to touch that person back. For example, if he was tagged out in a game, after the inning was over, he would have to go touch the person who tagged him. His teammates nicknamed him "Touch Me, Touch Me," and had fun touching him and then running off. One teammate reached under a bathroom stall to tough his toe; since Rhomberg didn't know who had done it, he had to touch all of the players on his team. Other teams learned about Rhomberg's ritual, too; once, an umpire had to stop play to tell the New York Yankees to stop touching him.

This article was brought to you by Jennifer from Top Online Colleges

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