The other day I was watching the Cubs playing in a tight game. The opposing team was up to bat with a runner on first. The pitch…the runner took off…the Cubs’ catcher threw down to Javy Baez at second…in a single beautiful motion Baez glided a couple of steps, jumped, plucked the ball out of the air just behind the bag, swooped down, tagged the runner out. A work of art. Also, a superb athletic move. The Cubs won. And won some more. Now they are in the World Series for the first time since 1945.
Ahhhhh…1945. That was the year of the Curse of the Billy Goat which many fans swear has haunted the Cubs for the past 71 years.
Curse of the Billy Goat
On October 6, 1945, the Cubs were playing…yes…in the World Series. Billy Sianis had a beloved pet goat. A decade or so before the 1945 World Series, Billy rescued a goat that had fallen off a passing truck. The goat became his everything. The goat was a regular at the local watering hole Billy owned. Billy called the bar…surprise!…Billy Goat Tavern. Billy also loved the Cubs. And on that day in 1945, he purchased two tickets to the World Series game. One for himself. One for his goat. Some say the gatekeepers refused to allow the goat into the ballpark. Others say the goat was thrown out mid-game because it smelled bad. Whatever the specifics, Billy placed a curse: “The Cubs will never win a World Series again.”
Why do sports fans believe in Curses?
What is it about curses (or superstitions) and sports? My girls were hard core soccer players and their parents were hard core fans. Their father had his “winning” shirt that he wore to every playoff game. That worked…until it didn’t. How many of us have our own secret sauce…turn the cap backward, sit in that special seat in the stands, repeat a magic mantra (ooops…cheer), One survey found that 1 in 5 fans try to work their mojo to influence the score.
Why? Well, first of all fans really care about their sports. So the outcome affects how we feel. Second, there are so many complex factors that go into what that outcome is. Player skill, of course. But also mental strength, physical stamina, momentum, and, yes, luck. And we fans have very little control over any of this. We can cheer, of course. Hence, home field advantage. But despite the statistics and other facts we can look to, there’s always a sizeable element of chance in every game. So we bring our mojo. It gives us a sense of control.
Curses are meant to be broken!
Last year, five gung-ho fans tried to break Billy Sianis’ curse by eating 40 pounds of goat meat in 13 minutes. It didn’t work….or maybe it had a one–year delayed effect. I have a feeling it did.
Share your stories of curses and superstitions!