With the San Diego Chargers headed to the playoffs Sunday in Cincinnati, locals are ramping up the fandom – and practicing their best superstitions in hopes of a victorious outcome on game day.
So, Bolts fans, are you conjuring up some luck with your team jersey, cat, socks or hat? Whatever it is – if it works – you may want to keep doing it.
Earlier this season, the Chargers were 5-7. Then, suddenly, they won four games in a row.
The turnaround, at least according to one pair of fans, may have been because of “Sniffy,” a male cat that lives at the Hawk Watch Winery in Warner Springs.
At the onset of the Bolts’ recent winning streak, Sniffy’s owners began dressing him in a blue-and-gold San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders outfit.
Since then, the Chargers haven’t lost. The owners say Sniffy will be decked out in his lucky getup this Sunday, and hopefully the outfit’s magic continues to work in the Chargers’ favor.
As odd or silly of some superstitions might seem, local psychiatrist Dr. Clark Smith says fans practice superstitions because they want to feel like a part of the team – part of something bigger than themselves. Dr. Smith says people also have an illusion of control.
“I see that a lot in anxiety disorder problems, where it goes back to childhood. You have anxiety about your mother – well, ‘step on a crack, break your mother’s back.’ So, we have these little rituals to prevent bad things from happening,” Dr. Smith explained.
For their part, Chargers fans are no strangers to their own “lucky” rituals before game day. It seems Bolts fans follow a host of superstitions.
“Every time I watch the game with my roommate, we always lose, so I always make sure I don’t watch it with him so that we can win the game,” one local man told NBC 7 San Diego.
“I take the cats and I just curl up and I’m sort of listening [to the game] but I’m not watching. I don’t want to jinx them – they have to win, man,” said one San Diego woman.
And, even the littlest fans have their lucky habits.
“I wear my jersey, and it says ‘Rivers,’ and I wear my cap and socks,” one little boy told NBC 7.
But, interestingly enough, few local fans of losing teams practice superstitions.
Both a Chicago fan and a Cleveland Browns fan said they don’t do much on game day.
“I just watch them every Sunday and hope against hope that we’ll turn things around,” said the Browns fan.
Still, Dr. Smith says there’s nothing wrong with the occasional superstitious ritual – as long as it’s not taken too far.
“If you take it to extremes and you lose touch with reality, that’s not good. But, if it doesn’t cause any harm and your team keeps winning, who am I to judge?” he said.
“I do all the cheering – in my seat,” added one more Chargers fan. “My arms will go crazy but I don’t stand up. That’s the only thing I don’t do. I like it. Go Chargers!”