Pass the Buck to Lady Luck

There is no doubt that Serena Williams is the greatest-ever tennis player in history. But be warned.

There is a case for staying as far away as possible from Serena during tournaments.

The reason – Serena never changes her socks throughout a tournament and a whiff of that may not be so good for the system.

Superstition and sport have always gone hand in hand from time immemorial. It could be bizarre, funny or downright ludicrous but there is a sort of logic to it, at least from the player or team’s point of view.

The latest to join the bandwagon is Pune’s own Indian Premier League (IPL) team.  The Rising Pune Supergiants will now be known as Rising Pune Supergiant, with one alphabet omitted for good luck.

This was done after much consultation with numerologists who suggested that the Pune team could live up to its name this time after finishing seventh in the last edition of IPL. Time will tell.

India’s cricket captain Virat Kohli used to wear the same gloves which got him runs in the past. He doesn’t need that anymore as he is in top gear these days anyway.

Sachin Tendulkar used to always wear his left pad first before going in to bat. It must have brought him luck as he finished as the best batsman of all-time after Don Bradman.

Australian captain Steve Waugh had the same red handkerchief popping out of his pocket throughout his 19 years of international cricket. It sure brought him luck.

But these are minor compared to some of the other sportspersons’ indulgence to woo Lady Luck.

Basketball star Jason Terry did so many different things before playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) games. He always ate chicken the night before the game and wore five pairs of socks during the match. That was the easy bit.

Terry went to great lengths to purchase the shorts of all his opponents in the NBA for a purpose. He wore the shorts of the team he was going to face the next day while going to bed!

Then there was five-time Wimbledon winner Bjorn Borg who grew his beard and wore the same T-shirt throughout a big tournament.

Basketball pitcher Jason Giambi was a moody performer who had his share of ups and downs throughout his career. Giambi found a solution to reverse slumps – slip his massive frame into a tiny pair of golden thongs.  That ensured he wouldn’t be the butt of all jokes.

Kevin Rhomberg had a short career with the Cleveland Indians in the Major League Baseball. But his superstition has been long talked about after his playing days were over.

Rhomberg did not like being touched and if somebody did, then the baseball player felt  he had to touch back that person too. Once word spread about this, players resorted to touching Rhomberg frequently, leading to utter chaos.

Rhomberg spent more time trying to touch his opponents than concentrating on his duties as a player.  An umpire had to actually call off a match as every opponent thought it was their duty to touch Rhomberg.

Then there was South African cricketer Neil McKenzie who went around the toilets putting the seats down before his turn came to bat. He even taped his bat to the ceiling for good luck.

So do superstitions really help? There must be some truth because it does provide a psychological boost to the player.

And ultimately it is personal. So if UFC professional boxer and mixed martial arts expert Lyoto Machida drinks his own urine, known as Morarji Desai special in India, it’s his problem.

It may be a disgusting habit for some but for Brazilian Machida, it helped – he usually won.

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur is a Senior Pune Journalist who has worked both in India and abroad. An absolute cricket fanatic, Babu writes columns on the game for various publications.
Babu Kalyanpur

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