Friday the 13th. On the day that constitutes one of the biggest superstitions in the United States, we'll take a look into some of the science and psychology of superstition and sports.
If you read my material on GBB, you probably know that I make a lot of intuitive conjectures when it comes to my analysis of the Grizzlies. Though I often form opinions based on my past experiences, I do so through a lens of reason and facts. I usually need to base my conclusions on more than one past instance to support and triangulate my thoughts.
With that said, let me tell you that I am one of the least superstitious people you'll ever meet. Even though my Grind Prophecizing would lend you to believe otherwise.
As with so many idiosyncrasies of human nature, there's an array of explanations for how superstition operates. In nature, animals have been found to develop "superstitions" based on a reinforcement schedule.
In a study, pigeons repeated their actions (bobbing heads, walking in circles) that coincided with the timed release of their food in an attempt to influence the feeder, even though some would repeat the actions thousands of times before the next scheduled feeding.
This partial reinforcement effect can also be used to explain the human habit, i.e., when someone exhibits a specific behavior and expects a specific reinforcement, and nothing is happening, it can create a sense of persistence within that person. ("Okay, my lucky Shane Battier jersey is surely going to bring the Griz a win tonight")
But don't confuse superstition with its related cousins: phobias like Eric Berry's equinophobia or John Madden's pteromerhanophobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorders which can stem from neurological issues (but isn't mutually exclusive to superstition).
For a ritual to be consider superstitious it needs to have some degree of magical belief behind it. Meaning: an action that can realistically have no direct effect on the desired outcome (knocking on wood to avoid getting sick) is repeated with the hope and belief that it can change the outcome.
But this takes on a different light when you enter the realm of sports and other pressure-filled activities. Many rituals or superstitions, as some incorrectly label them, that are performed by athletes are used as form of meditation to calm nerves or to avoid distractions before their performance.
But if a basketball player were to avoid even touching his feet to the mid-court line because he thinks that will keep him from getting injured, that's pure superstition.
- Game Score and Winner (correct predictions receive 3 points, if no correct predictions, 1 point awarded to member(s) with closest differential)
- The Grindmaster (3 points awarded to correct predictions; if Grindmaster title is split between 2 or more players, 2 points go to each member who predicted one of those players)
- Pick (A), (B), (C) or (D) from the following: (A) Grizzlies win and Zach Randolph is their leading scorer, (B) Grizzlies lose and Zach Randolph is the leading scorer, (C) Grizzlies win and Zach Randolph is not the leading scorer, (D) Grizzlies lose and Zach Randolph is not the leading scorer (3 points awarded to correct predictions; zero points awarded for incorrect predictions)
- Pick (A), (B), (C) or (D) from the following: (A) Grizzlies win while scoring 100+ points, (B) Grizzlies lose while scoring 100+ points, (C) Grizzlies win while scoring fewer than 100 points, (D) Grizzlies lose while scoring fewer than 100 points (3 points awarded to correct predictions; zero points awarded for incorrect predictions)
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