1. The Lucky Seat
If you were watching an episode of Mad Men with a group of friends and, after the first half of the show was disappointing, one of them insisted that the two of you switch seats, his voice filling with urgency each time he repeated the proposal, you would be understandably confused. You would certainly not believe his assertion that the show would improve after the seat switch. And yet the lucky seat is one of the most important tools in a sports fan’s arsenal.
2. The Bad Luck Guy
The Bad Luck Guy serves two purposes for sports fans. One, it allows them to punish that one friend who doesn’t always watch the game with them (a spotty attendance record is vital to identifying a BLG). But more importantly, it allows fans to blame someone who can actually hear them. Having a BLG is cathartic for a group of friends watching a game, but it is also one of the leading causes of adult bullying (probably).
3. The Unclean Shirt
The sworn enemy of non-sports-fan significant others everywhere, The Unclean Shirt, and its cousin The Unclean Hat — or in terrible cases The Unclean Underwear — is a gambit employed by only the most desperate. It takes the saddest side effect of sports-induced depression (living in one’s own filth) and tries to recontextualize it into a positive. In order from most acceptable to least:
•The Unclean Shirt: Relatively acceptable provided that one also wears an undershirt and that The Unclean Shirt is only worn for the game itself.
Verdict: Can be used for most games.
•The Unclean Hat: Head sweat is among the grossest kinds of sweat, and a hat that has soaked up so much of it that it’s begun to change colors is going to be pretty gross.
Verdict: Should be reserved for big games.
•The Unclean Underwear: The least acceptable, but also the least detectable. If head sweat is among the grossest kinds of sweat, crotch sweat is [Keith Jackson voice] the grandaddy of ‘em all. When you employ The Unclean Underwear, you are taking the chance that even fellow fans will find you genuinely disgusting.
Verdict: Acceptable for rivalry games and conference/league championships ONLY.
4. The Importance Of Green Bay
There are 105,809 people living in Green Bay. It’s 1/15th the size of Virginia Beach, Virginia. And yet — are you, personally, absolutely sure that Virginia Beach is a real place? No, right? But you know Green Bay is as important an American city as Chicago, Minneapolis, or Detroit.
5. The Beard
Not shaving your facial hair helps your team win. Everyone knows that. These guys above went 142–0 in the Top Hat Mudball League.
6. The Jinx
In 1997, during Game 7 of the World Series, I told my dad, and I quote, “It’s finally our turn. We’re finally going to do it.” Our Cleveland Indians hadn’t won a World Series since 1948, but we were winning in the bottom of the 9th inning. This was it. Except I said it. And so it wasn’t. And we still haven’t won since 1948. You could not convince me that Jose Mesa’s collapse in the ninth inning that allowed the Marlins back into the game was not my fault, even if you had Jose Mesa sitting in front of me explaining how it was all on him. Sorry, Tribe fans. That one’s on me.
7. The Reverse Jinx
I learned from my error of 1997 when my Ohio State Buckeyes went to the 2002 National Championship. After the Miami Hurricanes scored a touchdown on their first drive in overtime, I told everyone who would listen that we were going to lose. That this is what Ohio State does: We come close and we lose. Minutes later my masterfully placed reverse jinx worked its charm and the Buckeyes got a lucky call that allowed them one extra shot at the endzone, which they used to score a touchdown. They would go on to win the game. And just as I lost the 1997 World Series, you can’t convince me that I didn’t win the 2002 National Championship. Like the rest of the items on this list, even though they haven’t been verified by the scientific method (yet), reverse jinxes are real and they’re spectacular.