We all have our little quirks and foibles when it comes to life, be it little daily rituals, dos-and-don’ts, keepsakes or lucky numbers. Superstition is a powerful human trait, borne of a desire to exert some control over uncontrollable, fortunate or unfortunate, or surprising situations.
For example, Boston Red Sox fans are more likely to attribute their 86-year World Series drought to the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ — that is the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees — rather than bad luck or bad form on the baseball field itself. Gamblers, sports stars, and even celebrities aren’t immune from seemingly irrational fears or habits. Let’s take a look at some of them.
In the high-stakes world of gambling, there are plenty of ways in which punters bless or curse themselves. Some tips for good luck: blow on your dice before you roll, wear red (a lucky color, especially in Asian culture), when you head into the casino, and always avoid the main entrance, a tradition said to date back to when the MGM Grand redesigned the front door into a lion’s jaws.
Despite being a game of chance, many swear by number placement in roulette. The 10 best numbers on roulette wheels are determined by factors such as symmetry (number 17 whose position is dead-center on the board), and various ways to split bets for maximum winnings. It’s important to remember that the popularity of these numbers in no way guarantees a favorable outcome! Oh, and remember not to whistle at any table in a casino — not only will this bring you bad luck, it’ll also irritate everyone else.
The list of celebrities who have superstitions goes on forever. From Truman Capote, a superstitious chain smoker who couldn’t bear more than three cigarette butts in his ashtray (if at someone else’s house, the ashtray wasn’t emptied he would stub his out and carry them around in his pocket), to supermodel Heidi Klum carrying her baby teeth around in her purse (“We don’t have a tooth fairy (in Germany), so I put them in a little bag” — seems reasonable to me), it just goes to show that celebs are just as wacky as the rest of us.
My personal favorite, however, comes from Megan Fox. When the actress flies she never forgets to pack music by a certain pop music icon. “I know it’s not my destiny to die listening to a Britney Spears album,” she told Conan, “so I always put that on my headphones when I’m flying because I know it won’t crash”.
Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships. In every game, to bring him luck, he wore his University of North Carolina shorts underneath his Bulls uniform. Hopefully, they were washed once in a while.
The ‘Lucky Beard’ is another good-luck sporting superstition, made famous by Björn Borg, who grew his beard specifically for Wimbledon each year, and the face fungus almost certainly brought him five straight titles (1976-1980). This same trick has been adopted across a multitude of other sports such as ice hockey and American football.
Superstition is an odd trait that (seemingly) only humans possess. Whether they actually bring luck (or misfortune), or simply calm nerves and help focus, they are a fascinating, eccentric part of our characters.