A Discovery News article was published today titled Superstitious Beliefs Cemented Before Birth. The article reports on a research study that suggests a person’s belief in superstition and the paranormal are traits determined while in the womb. Interestingly, this article is not only just in time for Halloween, but it is timely for Game 3 of the World Series scheduled for Halloween night. Some players and fans are putting on serious mojo for this game.
Baseball, in general, is rife with tales of players’ odd beliefs, and sometimes even outright kookiness, for the good of the game. For example, Yankees team members possess a few “lucky charms” and also adhere to certain pre-game rituals. New York Yankees player Nick Swisher keeps a broken gnome and a toy rattlesnake in his locker to bring luck to the game. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada refers to a biblical quote (Jonah 2:8) he posted in in his locker, for that extra supernatural blessing for the team. A majority of players believe that they each, individually, possess that one lucky charm, or perform that specific ritual, that will influence the destiny of a game.
The players aren’t the only ones who believe in superstitions for sport. Just look at sports fans. Devoted fans will go to fanatical extremes to assist their favorite teams toward championship status. Fate is in their hands, they believe. Phillies fans Bill and Margie Kaback will only wear specific apparel when the Philadelphia Phillies play. This dress code is maintained so the Phillies can utilize that extra luck that only the Kabacks can provide. The Kabacks even go so far as to adorn their dog’s neck with a Phillies bandana.
At what point did fans and players adopt these belief systems? At what point did some fans even believe that certain players were born to play sports. Could talent be linked to luck? Or is it something deeper, more primal? Maybe we are born with a belief system, apparently “set” before birth. The latest research suggests that belief in superstitions and the paranormal are instilled in all of us before we are born.
The published study, headed by University of Vienna psychologist Martin Voracek, suggests (among other things), that exposure to testosterone and other male sex hormones in the womb, is among what gears all of us toward our beliefs.
Previous studies have indicated that women are more frequent believers in superstitions and the paranormal. This study also suggests the that “women are equipped with higher intuitiveness and lower analytical thinking.”
But what about the manly sports players and their fans who believe that their habits and beliefs actually influence which team wins a ball game? Voracek’s study suggests that though many factors contribute to the belief in superstitions and the paranormal, there possibly exists a few physical traits. The ratio of ring finger to index finger length may be one indicator. Body length at birth may also play a role.
Overall, the study suggests that men who believe in superstitions and the paranormal, possess at least one feminine trait.
So, could it be that manly athletes and sports fans possess a few feminine traits? Could it be that athletes and sports fans possess “higher intuitiveness and lower analytical thinking”, as well?
One thing is for sure. Superstitions are running high on this All Hallows Eve. The near full moon will be holding the water. Black cat bone be damned - especially one belonging to a black cat that fans and players alike hope won’t stray onto the Citizen’s Bank Park field. On Halloween night, ritual and mojos will rule – in tandem with athletic talent influenced by that extra bit of luck that players and fans alike bring to the game.
Regardless of which way a person “swings” between masculinity and femininity, millions of baseball fans will lend good spirits to both sports teams this Halloween night.