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The 20 Ways to Successfully Jinx a Sports Team

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2013

The 20 Ways to Successfully Jinx a Sports Team

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Hailing from a small town near the great city of Cleveland, I can tell you that my sports experience has been a little, well, incomplete, to say the least.

    Experiencing firsthand "The Drive," "The Fumble" and "The Decision," I have yet to see any of my favorite teams hoist a championship trophy in my lifetime, and can recall plenty of times when I've truly believed to have jinxed one—or all—of them in a loss.

    Some may think it's just bad luck. But if you're a true sports fan, you know that breaking routine is a perfect blame for your team getting that "L" rather than the win.

    So if you're doing any of these 20 things, you might want to stop to avoid the heartache I have had for nearly 30 years.

Forget to Wear Something Lucky

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    Image via joeclifford.com
    Image via joeclifford.com

    Sports might not be rocket science, but when it comes to finding a reason why your team upset another squad, one simply can't find a suitable reason, sometimes.

    Instead of just assuming it was good luck or that your guys just played the game of their lives, us sports fans know that we need to wear the exact same thing as the game prior, because, naturally, it had nothing to do with the play on the field and everything to do with the vintage, thrift store shirt you were wearing.

    It might sound silly, but I bet you feel regret should you not wear it and your team loses, right?

Shave Your Facial Hair

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    Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    As most of us probably know, plenty of athletes have crazy superstitions like us fans do.

    With the introduction of the playoff beard in hockey by the Islanders back in '80s, NHL players sport the scruff every season in hopes of lifting Lord Stanley's Cup.

    But don't think fans and players in other sports haven't fallen for the same belief, with teams like the Red Sox tossing out their razors to come together and hope their opponents truly do fear the beard.

Let Someone Else Sit in Your Lucky Chair

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    Image via bornrich.com
    Image via bornrich.com

    As I've mentioned with the previous other two examples here, fans are extremely superstitious, so if your team's undefeated in each game that you've sat in a recliner, by God, you don't let anyone else sit there during games.

    I don't care if the person in question just had back surgery and needs the extra support to feel comfortable, because when it comes to my teams, nothing gets in the way of winning.

Wash Your Jersey

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    David Dow/Getty Images

    The stench of sweat and the outdoors that happened the day of a big win might have to be washed off your skin—assuming you don't want to take on the appearance of a hobo—but that doesn't mean it needs to come off the jersey you were wearing that fateful day.

    Sure, the thing might wreak of spilled beer, barbecue coals and have some dirt on it from the parking lot football game you played at the tailgate, but you should never mess with a good thing by washing it all off while your team is rolling in wins when you have it on.

Plan Ahead

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Financial advisors might tell you that planning ahead is a good idea for your bank account, but doing it in sports is never a good idea.

    I've seen friends drop some serious cash on playoff tickets because they thought their team would make it, only to be left in the cold when the franchise choked and missed out.

    Apparently, there's a burger place in D.C. that's been famous for doing this to Washington sports teams in the past year or so, so take it from them that no fan should ever assume that what they want to happen actually will.

Talk About a Player's Shooting Ability

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    It always seems to happen, doesn't it?

    Whenever a shooter goes to the foul-line to take a couple shots, an announcer mentions how he's either perfect on the night or hits on 90 percent for the season.

    Next thing we all know—clank.

    Hopefully it just doesn't come at a critical time in the game—or look as ugly as this air ball by Bismack Biyombo.

Assume Victory and Plan the Celebration

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    As you'll read later on, it's never a smart idea for fans—or in this case, stadium security—to wave the white flag on a sporting event.

    Ask any Spurs fan how they felt about seeing the yellow ropes being setup during Game 6 of this year's Finals—before the clock hit triple zeros—and they'll probably go on a serious rant.

    Though many assumed San Antonio had won the title, we should all be smarter, as nothing in sports should ever be assumed.

    It may have happened in Miami's home arena, but it actually proved to jinx the visiting team.

Talk About a Record Before It Happens

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    Go ahead and talk all you want about the Detroit Tigers Game 1 pitching performance in the ALCS against the Red Sox—I just hope you weren't the one mentioning how they went into the ninth inning with no-hits allowed, only to jinx the no-no.

    It's an unwritten rule to never bring up something like this going on during the moment it's happening, but any fan who does so from a distance might be at fault for seeing the thing completely disappear.

    The Tigers did still win the game, though, so at least the fans didn't ruin the outcome of the game and just the hitless attempt.

Burn a Jersey of a Player on Your Favorite Team

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    As we all saw when LeBron James made his decision to leave Cleveland for South Beach back in 2010, burning athlete's jerseys has become more popular.

    But be careful for what you wish for when you do something like this, because even when the guy does get pulled—or, unfortunately injured—it doesn't always work out for fans the way they'd hope.

    Look no further than Texans fans in their game against the Rams when Matt Schaub got hurt and T.J. Yates came in to replace him. Yates tossed two picks, one of which was returned for a 98-yard touchdown.

Celebrate Too Early

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    I hate to admit it, but I did this just a few weeks ago when I texted my buddy something along the lines of, "Congrats on the big win, cuz. Didn't think the Titans had it in 'em," after seeing his favorite team, the Tennessee Titans, hold a lead on the division-rival Houston Texans late in the fourth.

    Of course, I indirectly jinxed him and his team, as the Texans came back to win in overtime.

    It's something I still feel like I need to apologize for by buying him a few beers every time we're out.

Think You're Too Cool

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    When you're just a tyke at a game with your dad, you know nothing else but to stand on your feet, yell as loud as possible and wear your hat inside out in hopes of a rally.

    But as you get older, sometimes you might think looking ridiculous in public ins't such a good idea.

    Well I'll tell you what, if it helps your team win, then who really cares how silly you look.

Talk Serious Trash

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    Patience might be a virtue, but humility—especially in sports—isn't too far behind.

    Overconfidence and brash behavior might be a good look when drunk at a bar amongst rival fans, but even if your team wins that game, just wait until they get blown out on the national stage in a championship game for everyone to get back at you.

    Unfortunately for all of my friends who love Notre Dame, they experienced this last football season after running the table and getting a little cocky heading into the national title game—where they got waxed by Alabama, 42-14.

Sell Something of Importance

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    Image via Andy Friedman
    Image via Andy Friedman

    After seeing plenty of my friends get married over the past couple years, I know how prominent it is for the wife to come in and "clean house" on certain items when first moving in together.

    While I've seen buddies forced to sell things, like video game consoles and pool tables, one should never get rid of something that has significant luck when that item brings his or her team victories.

    So to all you wives out there, please double-check with your dude before selling that picture of the Manning brothers, it might just be the luckiest charm he's ever had.

Trade Your Favorite Player in Fantasy

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    You might downplay the effect that a fantasy sports team might have on the real-life actions of humans, but I still bet you won't chance anything just to be safe—or so I hope.

    If you're a Lions fan and love Calvin Johnson, even if he's not having the dominant year you had wished he would after last season, you still don't trade him from your fantasy squad in fear that something bad might happen on the field.

    Personally, I can live with losing with a bad fake team than having to endure a pathetic showing each weekend from guys I care about.

    If Megatron gets hurt and is out for the season next week, are you really going to be happy because you traded him in time for your fantasy team to do well?

    You better not.

Bash Your Team

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If there's one thing that I've learned about being a sports fan, it's to never just openly rip into your favorite teams.

    Though there have been plenty of moments when I find myself swearing at the TV and yelling about how bad the players are—especially when they choke in a crucial situation—when a franchise senses a fanbases desperate voices, they will try everything to turn things around.

    That unfortunately means plenty of turnover in the front office and in coaches, leading to years of futility and rebuilding.

    I've gotten an up close and personal look at it with the Browns since 1999.

Leave Early

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    When will fans learn to stay for the entire game?

    Just as we saw this past weekend when Tom Brady led his 32nd career come-from-behind victory over the Saints, until the clock says triple zeros or the last out is made, there's no reason to ever believe the result is safe.

    For all you Chargers fans out there, I'm sure a few of you left last year's Monday night game early to beat the traffic, only to realize the visiting Broncos had come all the way back from a 24-0 halftime deficit.

    Anytime you leave early with your team ahead, and they end up with the loss, you should absolutely feel responsible for turning your back on them.

Choose Not to Go to a Game

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    Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

    I remember back in 2007 when my Indians had a 3-1 series lead over the Red Sox in the ALCS and I had tickets to Game 5 at Progressive Field in a potential closeout game.

    For reasons out of my control, I had to bail on going to the game since I was six hours away from Cleveland at the time, and had a marathon to run a day later.

    The Red Sox beat the Tribe that day—and subsequently went on to win the next two games in Boston to take the series in seven games.

    Don't think for a second that I don't hold myself responsible for the loss after choosing to save some money on gas.

    Never again will I make the same mistake.

Land on the Cover of Sports Illustrated

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    Image via Walter Iooss Jr.
    Image via Walter Iooss Jr.

    One of the more famous jinx's in all of sports, a team or player that ends up on the cover of Sports Illustrated might just be setting themselves up for future failures—assuming you believe in things like that.

    With several athletes experiencing unfortunate luck in the coming days or weeks of their photo shoot, the jinx has affected plenty of players and teams since the mag printed its first issue in 1954.

    For instance, take April 2010's issue that saw Yankees players Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada on the cover—with Rivera, Pettitte and Posada all suffering injuries within a week of landing on newsstands.

    This stuff can't just be consequence, right?

Make a Bold Prediction

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    One motto that every common-sensed sports fan should absolutely live by is, "It ain't over till it's over," because, as we've seen plenty of times before, comebacks are inevitable in some games.

    Yet, as you can see from the video above, some people—even national sports columnists like Dan Shaughnessy—still make the mistake, as he proclaimed in 2011 that the Tampa Bay Rays would be unable to rally from seven runs down on the last day of the season.

    What happened?

    Well the Rays did in fact come all the way back, while Shaughnessy's Red Sox blew the one-run lead they had in their game to miss out on the playoffs.

Snag a Catchable Foul Ball

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    I know all about the "Curse of the Billy Goat," and that the Chicago Cubs haven't had the greatest of luck in the past 100 years, but even whispering the name "Steve Bartman" at Wrigley Field will probably result in a few boos shouted your way.

    After taking a playable ball away from then-left fielder Moises Alou—even if Alou believes he wouldn't have caught it—the Cubs completely imploded, battling mental demons after the play, resulting in a few errors and eight runs in the inning.

    If you really want to jinx a team, go ahead and try to be part of the action and see how it turns out for you, because, even 10 years later, Bartman's still a ghost.

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