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On the lowdown: Is superstition a mind trick or is it real?

Today is Friday the 13, a day that is considered unlucky to those who are superstitious. I’m not much of a believer when it comes to bad juju such as walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross the road in front of me. 

But I can say I am a little credulous when it comes to the mythical rituals in the world of sports. 

The playoff beard is a great example. I tend to partake in it whenever Bay Area teams are on a good run heading into the postseason. 

Sometimes I’ll wear a lucky shirt or hat if I believe it helps my favorite team possibly win a game.

Then, of course, there’s some athletes or coaches who can be very superstitious (cue Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”) themselves. 

St. Francis girls’ volleyball coach Guy Putnins said he’s been somewhat superstitious in all his years of watching sports.

“From sitting one way and being like, ‘OK, we’re winning if I sit this way,” Putnins said.

Putnins said he recently switched from an old flimsy clipboard he had forever to a new one.

“Who knows? Change a thing,” Putnins said. “But I’m not superstitious in a serious manner. I think it’s more of a karma thing.” 

Putnins’ daughter, Lucy, is on the volleyball team. She said they began to win after he swapped clipboards on the day of a match against Live Oak. 

“We did win with it,” she said. “(Putnins) changed it on the day we won, but I don’t know.”

In baseball, when a pitcher is on the verge of recording a no-hitter nobody is allowed to talk to them and nobody should be talking about what’s going on.

It’s an unwritten rule and a big no-no in the dugout. Dude already knows what’s at stake and shouldn’t be reminded about it.

Then there was something called the Madden Curse, in which, for some bizarre reason, several players featured on the cover of the Madden football video game have had nothing but bad luck shortly after their appearance.

Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper appeared on the 2002 cover and recorded the most fumbles the same year. His career came to an end in 2005 after blowing out both knees.

The 2004 version featured Atlanta Falcons quarterback Micheal Vick, who broke his leg and got in trouble for having the dog-fighting ring also in the same year. 

Donovan McNabb’s career took a dive when he appeared in 2006, Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks was done after Madden 2007 and Petyon Hillis of the Cleveland Browns was a one-hit-wonder in 2011.   

Not sure if it’s a mental thing but something strange is going on, don’t you think?

A majority of the players on the Pajaro Valley girls’ volleyball team are superstitious. Senior Julie Che said she has to wear high socks, never ankle cut. 

“I can’t wear low socks, that’s bad,” Che said.

Michael Jordan wore slightly longer shorts than other players because he needed to make room for his lucky North Carolina shorts, which he wore under his uniform throughout his career. 

St. Francis High senior Lawson Orradre of the football team doesn’t have anything special, yet.

Lawson said his dad, who also played football, had certain rituals he’d do or sometimes wear something during a game.

“I’ll go find (a ritual),” Orradre said. “I’ll keep it alive.” 

Orradre said he’s superstitious and he believes certain things work.

“Some things work and if you keep the same thing running it’s like a mental form of practice,” Orradre said. “You get in the same routine and that routine gets you winning and winning’s good.”

St. Francis athletic director Adam Hazel said he had a pregame “meal” that started during his freshman year at La Salle High in Milwaukie, Ore. 

Hazel, who was the quarterback for the Falcons, would eat a bag of nacho cheese-flavored Doritos before each game. His team went undefeated that season. 

“That was my one weird thing,” Hazel said. 

Hazel said he remembers riding on the bus to a jamboree in Hood River and was looking for something to munch on.

“I was just hungry and when you’re 14 you’re not very smart, you forget your post-school snack,” Hazel said. 

Hazel ate an entire bag of Doritos and went on to throw three touchdowns. He stuck with the same process for each game until one day he got distracted. 

Hazel was talking to a relative he hadn’t seen in a long time and forgot to eat the chips. La Salle ended up losing in a playoff game. 

OK, so it was probably all in his head. Still, it worked out for Hazel and look what happened when he didn’t eat those small triangular-shaped pieces of fried corn, laced with that “magical” orange cheesy powder.

NHL legendary goalie Patrick Roy used to skate backward towards the net, turn around at the last second and believed he made the goal shrink. 

Roy also talked to the posts during the game to thank them when a puck was deflected and often touching them with his hockey stick.

One way or another, whatever athletes or sports fans do whether it’s wearing certain clothes, eating a particular food, sitting a certain way or believing they can make the goal shrink, then I say do it.

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