When it comes to sports, it’s not only statistics that many people look at. For fans and players, superstitions and routines are just as important.
For some it means eating the same game day meal. For others, making sure you wear the same jersey or shirt.
“Every night during a Jets game, I wear my Winnipeg Jets pajama bottoms with my jersey and my hat,” fan Jason Bruyere said. “Everybody’s got traditions.”
Sports fans identify with their favourite teams and players. They tend to become emotionally invested in not only their success but their failures.
“My husband had a playoff beard the other day and I made him shave it off,” Laura Robson said.
Then the Winnipeg Jets lost Game 6 Monday night.
“Maybe it’s my fault,” Robson said.
With the Jets now heading to a Game 7 series final back in Nashville, those superstitions can become all that much more important.
For Aileen Thevenot, it means making sure her lucky finger puppet is ready to go.
“Every time I wear it they win,” Thevenot said. “Except for last night, unfortunately. So I don’t know if I’m going to wear it next time.”
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But for many fans, the overwhelming joy of a win outweighs the sting of a loss and the sense that the routine didn’t work.
“It’s like these successes are over powering and if there is anything we’ve done – wear the right shirt, jump over that line – then that strengthens that connection,” University of Toronto psychology professor Steve Joordans said. “The things that don’t work we ignore and forget.”
While there is no scientific evidence to support superstitious behaviour, for some experts it doesn’t matter when it comes to sports.
“Sports aren’t about rational thought,” Joordans said. “We all want to do our part. We want to see this as our team. We want to support our team.”
Players aren’t immune to it either.
For Winnipeg Jets Centre Mark Scheifele, it means being the last player off the ice after warm up. It’s a superstition he also shares with Dallas Stars Forward Tyler Seguin.
When the two play each other, the duo enter into a game of rock, paper, scissors to see who will be victorious.
“The more central role a player might have, the more superstitious they might become,” Joordans said.
For many having a distinct game day routine is just as important especially going into the final game of the series Thursday, and returning to the 7 p.m. puck drop.
“We’ve defined our three days. They already know what we’re doing tomorrow,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “You try to take away as many unknowns as possible. We’ll fly at the same time. I know what I’m eating tomorrow night. So you try to do as many things in your routine as you can.”
But if you put aside superstitions and routines and just focus on statistics, Jets fans may want to look no further than Maurice’s record.
The Jets head coach has been through two Game 7’s in his career. Both were in 2009 when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Maurice coached both teams to wins. Also noteworthy, both were away games.