Have you been watching the football?
I’ve watched some of the action though I’ve not been glued to each and every second of it, work and all that, and I’ve enjoyed what’s been taking place for the most part.
Now this post isn’t going to be about the clear superiority of rugby to football, which I think has been yet again proved due to the antics of so many of the players as they either roll around on the floor as if someone has shot them in the soul or they square up to the referee in a gang as they scream their opinions on any all aspects of his decisions. No, this time, I was reminded of the various little rituals and superstitions that players engage in all around the world when they play.
Why are superstitions so powerful?
If you’ve watched England play rugby over the last decade, you’d have seen some pretty decent goal kicking from Owen Farrell and before him, Jonny Wilkinson. Before that, Neil Jenkins of Wales was metronomic in his accumulation of points. And each of them had a very specific ritual they used before each and every kick as a way to do everything they could to maximize the chances of the ball sailing between the posts.
When I played, I did the same.
I’d banged over a penalty from inside my own half when playing for the school and because it went over, I did all I could to each time from then on, to copy what I’d done. Now I accept that there are things that will improve the chance of success which come from the science of what I was doing. Optimal angle of approach, correct angle of the ball on the tee, contact with the stitches rather than flat on the panel of the ball. All of these things would have been a part of what I did but I’m not sure that making sure I took three breaths before starting the run up or the particular way I swayed before that, would have had that much impact.
Never the less, each time from then on, the same routine was plugged in and off I went. I wasn’t perfect as a goal kicker but I wasn’t too shabby either, and that success came from the practice I put in but also in the fact that I had my superstitions with me. Following the same routine which had worked on that one occasion would give positive results, obviously. Each game I played, I clutched at my lucky process, just like Dumbo and his feather, to make the odds lean in my favour but just like Dumbo, the ability was inside me all along but I needed that superstition.
People all over the world have lucky objects or rituals that help them through their days. It’s been the same through the far reaches of time. We’ve tried to understand what goes on around us and do all we can to weight the dice in our favour. It worked once so if we repeat what we did when we were successful, maybe it was that thing that was responsible for the positive result. If you were successful the second time, that just reinforces the idea and from then on you can’t think of a time before the process.
Now civilisations all through time have dealt in the same things.
How many religions are there in the world? They can’t all be right so that leaves superstition. Someone once suggested a way of behaving that would bring positive results, a particular ritual to follow, and it stuck. Animal sacrifices. Stone formations. Dancing for rain. All of these things came about as ways to influence the world in your favour, to show that you were doing the right things and the more people that did them and good things happened, the stronger the belief.
Superstitions are there to allow us a feeling of having even the slightest sliver of control over the uncontrollable. They go beyond all of the effort and work that may have gone into the preparation for a specific event to act as the added bonus to what you’ve done. You’ve explored all options you had available so if things don’t work out, there’s not a great deal more you could have done.
So everyone out there, cling tightly to your superstitions to help you feel positive but never let them overshadow the true power that we all have inside us to really achieve greatness, it never came from the lucky rabbit’s foot at all.