Traditions, Superstitions And Stranger Things: A Fatal Four Way!

Eric Urbanowicz
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It’s that time again folks! It’s time to enter a world of weird…and look at the quirks that we in sports love to see, read about and wonder “why?”

What can top clipping finger nails, throwing back home run balls and trying to find balance in practice? While there’s many, we’ve only got time for a few. So let’s dive in!

 

Bang Your Head!

Professional wrestlers always have unique rituals prior to walking down to the ring. However, for WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg, he would do something to get himself amped up for the match.

As he gets ready to walk out to ring surrounded by security, he would head butt a locker room door, a locker or a wall before he walked out to the ring. No matter if it was a big pay-per-view, a house show or just an appearance, if he was there, he’d hit his head against something.

In early August, he actually explained why in an appearance on American Monster Productions YouTube channel. “For you guys to get the character that you got, I had to do certain things,” said Goldberg “well, one of them was headbutt the door. Right? And that may, on the outside, look like a stupid move, but as I mentioned, we all weigh the positives and negatives, so it’s very positive to make it as violent as humanly possible, and as real as humanly possible.”

Unfortunately he has done both in recent years. In a 2018 edition of Monday Night RAW, prior to a promo segment he had with Brock Lesnar, he accidentally hit hard enough that he went out to the ring bleeding from his forehead. He would do it again at the 2019 edition of the Super Showdown pay-per-view except this time, there were concerns he may have concussed himself and went out thinking he could finish his match against the Undertaker. He did, but it’s considered one of the sloppiest matches the company has seen.

Sometimes getting in character comes at a cost. The question is how much your investment goes for. Goldberg possibly shaving time off his life to become one of the most popular wrestlers of all-time, a hall of famer and a four time heavyweight champion? It could have been worth it.

 

Waving The White Flag

Usually when you see a white flag waving, it signals surrender. In Chicago though, if it has a blue W in the middle, it means the Cubs won. It’s been that way since the 1940’s, in fact.

In 1937, Phillip K. Wrigley, the owner of the Cubs, ordered the construction of a manually operated scoreboard. The next year, a giant “masthead” was included on the scoreboard. Once the 1940’s hit, they started the practice of raising win and loss flags.

While the loss flag isn’t that known about (blue flag with a white L) , the win flag has become the calling card of Cubs’ rallies. It would be joined in 1984 with the song “Go Cubs Go!” written by Steve Goodman.

These would both receive much attention following the Chicago Cubs World Series win in 2016. The flag has since traveled to the White House and held by then President Barack Obama. The day of championship parade saw several flag poles around the city raising it.

 

Strike Them Pink

The University of Iowa football has historically been a good program, with five National championships, 28 All-Americans and even one Heisman trophy winner. Part of that success may come from getting inside their opponents’ heads with their pink locker room.

Back in 1979, Iowa brought in head coach Hayden Fry. Fry studied psychology prior to becoming a football coach and believed that the color pink had a calming effect on people who saw it. Other people believe he wanted to physiologically best his opponent before they stepped onto field.

In his book, “A High Porch Picnic,” Fry wrote: “When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I’ve got him. I can’t recall a coach who has stirred up a fuss about the color and then beat us.” Fry had a 143–89–6 record at Iowa. He led the Hawkeyes to 14 bowl games.

The room got into the head of legendary Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler. So much so that he had his staff bring paper to cover walls during Michigan-Iowa games. It didn’t ultimately work, as Michigan would go 2-2-1 in that time.

The room has also faced its fair share of controversy. In 2005, after the a renovation to Kinnick Stadium the previous year, the room got pinker as pink lockers, pink showers, and pink toilets installed into the pink locker room. It drew the ire some law professors and students who protested that it reinforced the stereotype that pink is associated with women and the homosexual community.

Despite the protest, nothing would come of it as public opinion favored the tradition. Even Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins supported the room, writing: “I’m sure I should be more upset about the pink decor in the visitors’ dressing room at Iowa. But as it happens, my violent knee-jerk reaction is that it’s merely funny. If the armies of feminism want to change my thinking on that, they’re going to have to slap electrodes to my pretty little forehead and zap me until I stop giggling.”

Whether you agree with the idea or not, it’s one of the more clever mind games played in sports.

 

Nothing But The Net

For almost 20 years, former Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy flat out dominated forwards on the ice. To some, “Saint Patrick” is considered the NHL’s greatest goalie of all time. You don’t have to take our word for it, just ask those that talked to him during games….the goalposts.

Before, during and after games, Roy would talk to the goalposts. These weren’t just a couple words either, these were full on conversations he’d have. Roy once said, “before the game, I give them direction. The goalposts are always with me. They talk back to me. Some nights they say ‘bing.’ But some nights they have a bad night, too.” He’d even ask for them to help him: “Come on guys help me out!”

So why is talking to the goalposts? According to the man himself, they his friends. “They’re my friends” Roy said. “And I thank them for being my friends.”

Is he crazy? Did he hit his too hard? Whatever the case, when you’re one of the most successful goalies of all time and win four Stanley Cups, just keep doing it. People may judge you but they won’t judge your accolades.

Eric Urbanowicz

Connecticut

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