Everything I know about superstitions, I learned from watching the Minnesota Vikings.
I think that Joe Kapp was quarterback when I first discovered that the Vikings seemed to play a lot better when I sat in a certain "lucky chair" in my family's living room. It was the strangest thing. When I was in the chair, the Vikings experienced some of the finest and most miraculous moments in their history.
However, when one of my sisters planted herself in the chair, disaster and mayhem ensued. Brutal injuries, unlikely interceptions, and deadly fumbles plagued the Vikings, and caused a lot of stress in our house. As a loyal Minnesota fan, (and the oldest brother) I felt that it was my duty to use whatever means necessary to keep my sisters out of the chair. My methods earned me a few appearances in my parents' kangaroo court, but my "lucky chair" defense planted a seed with my Dad. In the future he not only often helped me keep my female siblings out of the chair during Vikings games, but he also started to brand them as "bad luck" and actually banished them from the entire room during several playoff games and Super Bowls.
No doubt about it, the Vikings always played better when my sisters were out of the room. It is a bone of contention until this very day. The chair still sits in my parent's living room, and I flipped it upside down the last time I visited. Every one of my sisters has her name written on the bottom of the chair. I'm not going to challenge the claim to their inheritance, because I finally figured out after the Vikings tanked in their fourth Super Bowl, that the chair had lost its magical powers. I do predict, however, that no matter which sister ends up with the chair, it is to become "no man's land."
The Vikings also taught me that it is bad luck to pray for your favorite sports team to win while you are in church on Sunday. No matter how sincere my entreaties were, God always seemed to favor the faithful of Kansas City, Oakland, or Miami. Later I discovered that it is also bad luck to look at my watch when I am attending the 11:00 am service. It never failed. If the Vikings had a key matchup with the Packers in Lambeau at noon and I checked the time after communion, the Vikes would be down by two touchdowns by the time I got to the car.
As I have grown older, my hearing and hairline have receded, and so have my superstitions for the Vikings. Basically, the Vikings history of heartbreaks in spite of all the odds have beaten every omen into submission. I learned the hard way that there was nothing I could do in my living room that could keep Nate Wright from getting mugged by Drew Pearson, help "Disco" Darrin Nelson catch an easy touchdown pass, or guide Gary Anderson's game winning field goal attempt through the uprights.
The Minnesota Twins are a different story altogether. My wife and I are personally responsible for their game seven victory in the 1991 World Series. As the game went into extra innings as a scoreless tie, we decided to try to help Jack Morris notch the victory.
In the tenth inning, we placed our homer hanky on top of the unopened champagne bottle we had purchased in hopes of celebrating the Twins second World Series Victory. The Twins finally got some hits, but seemed to be stalling. With Gene Larkin at the plate and the Atlanta outfield in, we took the hanky off the champagne, and put in on the ceiling fan. As it twirled, Larkin lashed the next pitch into center field, and Twins history. We must have used up all of the magic that night, because that was the one and only time that the ceiling fan trick worked. It was worth it. Funny. We never got a thank you note from Larkin or the Twins.
The Vikings have been too putrid over the last few years to arouse significant superstitions in their faithful, but with their 5-0 start, things are bound to change. Chances are you are soon going to encounter fans who refuse to shave, or change their jerseys, socks, or underwear as long as the streak continues. This is not necessarily a good thing.
On the other hand, if the team's success can keep fans from looking at their watches during church, a lot of pastors are going to be congratulating themselves on the eloquence of their sermons.
It's an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good.