Here’s a thought experiment. Is the outcome of a live sports event different because you’re watching? Remotely or in person, can something you say or do have an impact?
Logic says no. A baseball game on television is little more than a TV show. Players can’t hear you shout at them or feel the good vibes you send their way. (Not counting the Dodgers, of course.) If I hadn’t watched Cougar Town on Tuesday, it would have played out the same hilarious way. Sports are no different.
Even if you’re in the stands, it’s unlikely your presence will make an impact in the game. Sure, you can yell on defense and contribute to disturbing crowd noise. But the crowd would be loud even if you were in the concourse grabbing a beer.
But here’s the thing. This question is impossible to test in a controlled setting. You can’t simultaneously watch and not watch the same game. Teams can’t re-play the same game to see if the outcome is the same with a specific person watching and not watching.
So if it’s not possible to achieve solid proof, you have to choose. Logic or faith?
Would that have happened if I was watching? Probably. Maybe not.
Usually, I’m a logic girl all the way. You don’t spend your college career in major-level econ courses if you don’t think everything has a logical explanation. But I do believe in jinxes.
There are a lot of things I can explain away by flashing my Chief Wahoo hat and my Browns t-shirt. This, apparently, is one of them. Everyone knows I believe in jinxes. But they don’t necessarily respect it.
Some people wear special clothes, or don’t shave, or eat a certain type of food. Everyone’s got their own superstitions when it comes to sports. And who knows, maybe it helps. Regardless, it allows fans to feel that they’re participating in the game, that they can contribute in their own small way. For me, it’s not about rituals or stinky socks. What I ask is simple: don’t assume!
If you want to read the five most entertaining hours of my life, you’ll see me yell at everyone from fellow sports writers to my own mother for making predictions or celebrating an unsure win prematurely. Maya Moore, people.
In 2009, my friend Katie and I went to Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame-Michigan game. I’m not going to recount what happened in its entirety because I do not like bawling. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Notre Dame was on defense, I went to get us some water. My favorite Ohio-bred safety, Kyle McCarthy, intercepted the ball while I was away. I left the stands for Michigan’s next possession, too. They had to punt. Their next possession, with Notre Dame up and 2:13 to go? I didn’t want to leave again, but I did sit down so I couldn’t see. A certain family member of mine who will not be named texted me a phrase that has become infamous in my family: “Da da da da da da da da onward to victory!” In other words, this person, in my mind, takes some blame. Would the outcome have been the same had this text not been sent? WE CAN NEVER KNOW.
Nothing is certain. Notre Dame can lose a game in 30 seconds. The Indians can lose a seven-game series after being up 3-1. The Browns can… okay, no one ever predicts a win for them. But you get my point. Assumptions make it worse when the near-certain goes awry. And maybe, if you hadn’t said anything, it wouldn’t have happened. We don’t know, because we can’t replicate it. So just be quiet, okay??
The jinx is really about a love so deep, you’ll believe anything in the hopes that your team will win. For a little more on loving (and loathing) sports, check out The Beautiful Game.
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