Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sports Fan Traditions and Superstitions

I read recently that animal lovers nationwide have been sending old Michael Vick jerseys to the Atlanta ASPCA and other organizations with instructions that the jerseys are to be used as rags or shredded for cage lining. First of all, that's awesome. I wrote a month ago that if I had a Vick jersey I would have had to hold a ritual burning to atone for the sin of having worn it. This is a much better option, much more karmic and productive. Okay, I'll admit it: it's also just totally kick-###.

This got me thinking about my sports paraphernalia traditions and superstitions. I'm going to share some of mine and invite you to share a few of your own.

Most of mine are football-related. The reasons are twofold: 1) The NFL schedule is so much more dramatic and conducive to preparation; game day is an event every week. And 2) With all due respect to the Red Sox and the Phillies, my Washington Redskins fandom dwarfs all of my other sports interest. Maybe it's because the 'Skins were the first sports team I ever followed, or maybe it's because that first year was the 1991 Super Bowl season. (Long story short: I worked for a Northern Virginia optical lab in summer of 1991, where I had the opportunity to make Joe Gibbs' glasses before the season, and I decided to follow the team to see what happened. Am I off-base in thinking I deserve a little Super Bowl ring?)

It's gameday today (albeit pre-season), and I must drink my morning coffee out of a giant oversized Redskins coffee mug. During the baseball season, I drink coffee out of a Red Sox mug every single day. I probably need to get a Phillies mug to alternate...

During the game, I will only drink red- or gold-colored beers, and only out of a beer glass with a Redskins logo on it. I sure miss George Starke's Head Hog Beer...

When opening a beer to drink during a Red Sox game, I will only use my talking Red Sox bottle opener. "Grand slam! Go crazy, folks! The Red Sox win!"

For a while, I was crazy enough to change jerseys during the Redskins game: offense, defense, and even special teams. For a couple years, I would switch between #82 (Michael ####ing Westbrook) when the Redskins were on offense, #24 (Champ Bailey) on defense and #30 (Brian Mitchell) on special teams. It got pretty exhausting, though I should probably re-think the strategy; the 'Skins did make the playoffs that year. Now I change jerseys depending on what I think the team really needs right now: old-school excellence (#28 Darrell Green), hard-nosed ballsy play (#30) or flash and style (#26 Clinton Portis). Usually, I'll wear one jersey for the entire game, but sometimes circumstances will require a switch mid-game.

(The Bailey jersey now hangs sadly in the closet next to the #82, the #5 Shuler and the #12 Frerotte. Of course I can't wear those jerseys.)

If I'm ticked off at a player, I'll bench his jersey. The Westbrook jersey vanished for months after the Stephen Davis training camp beat-down. I probably should have shredded the damn thing, honestly. When Clinton Portis came out in defense of Michael Vick's right to do what he wants on his property, I put his jersey away. Fortunately, Portis was turned around by legions of fans who sent him information about the cruelty of dogfighting (you gotta love the loyalty of Washington fans), and he admitted he was wrong and apologized. I still had to lay down the law, though, and suspended Portis' jersey for the first four games of the regular season. I won't wear it until the sentence has been served. I am the commissioner of my own fandom, and I take the responsibility very seriously.

I will not draft a Dallas Cowboy or a New York Yankee on my fantasy teams. I will not start a player who is playing against the Redskins that week.

My Red Sox 2004 World Series Champions hat only comes out during the playoffs or a pennant race.

I am convinced that all of these actions affect my teams' performance.

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  • At 8/25/2007 5:43 PM , Blogger Frank Creasy said...

    This posting gave me a big smile and a few chuckles Mr. Wham! Thanks!

    I don't have any current sports rituals, being more a casual sports fan these days (I just enjoy relaxing and letting a good game "wash over me", enjoying a good play by any player on either team). However, back in my high school wrestling days, I would always tie my left shoelace first, then after tying my right shoelace, I'd do five single-leg practice shots before taking the mat for a match. I don't know how that came about, but I lettered four years and was unbeaten in dual matches my senior year, so it worked, I guess. Most of the time.

  • At 8/26/2007 8:39 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    I just picked up a new grey #89 Santana Moss jersey with a gift card yesterday. I'm going to have to figure out how that fits in. I wore it for the game last night, and the first offensive play was a 40-yard pass to Moss, so that's a good sign.

  • At 8/27/2007 3:00 PM , Anonymous Phil Hamm said...

    The question is what do people do with all those joke "Ron Mexico" jerseys?

  • At 8/28/2007 2:24 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Ah, Ron Mexico. Best pseudonym ever.


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