The 6 Most Bizarre Sports Rituals in the World
When the 2010 World Cup was at its peak, we all heard a barrage of Vuvuzelas and, like most of the world, we asked ourselves "Why, God, why?" So, now we take a look at all the weirdest sports rituals from around the world and how they've affected their respective games. Here are the most bizarre sports rituals from around the world.
- Photo: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.01
Urinating On Hands Instead Of Wearing Gloves
The strangest and arguably the most disgusting sports ritual comes from New York Mets outfielder Moises Alou. Most baseball players wear batting gloves to absorb or minimize some of the shock on the hands when making contact with the ball and to improve their grip on the bat, but outfielder Alou is one of the few players in MLB who doesn't wear batting gloves at the plate.
Instead of using batting gloves Alou uses a more "natural" method of urinating on the palms of his hands throughout the season in order to harden their hands and prevent against calluses.
Alou claims that by urinating on his hands it helps his grip on the bat and helps to harden them.
The trick may be more gross than helpful, though. A 2004 article in Slate questioned the value of this superstition since urine contains urea, a key ingredient in moisturizers that actually soften the skin.
South Africa’s Vuvuzela
The Vuvuzela is a now world famous blow horn that was originally made of tin, but is now mass-produced in plastic for soccer games.
Like blowing into the mouth of a trumpet, the Vuvuzela emits a loud monotone similar to elephant trumpets seemingly indiscriminate of what's actually going on during the game .
Many tried to ban these noisemakers during 2010 World Cup because of all the complaints that they were too loud and not fit for a sports arena (or humanity's televisions, all over the world — especially people watching the game in surround sound).
The vuvuzela supporters say that it doesn’t detract from the game and that it is a strong part of the South African culture.
Detroit’s Lucky Octopus
A practice that remains strong for the Detroit Redwings of the NHL is the tossing of octopi onto the ice after the Red Wings score a goal during a home game.
Click here for a video explanation of how/why.
The origins of this tentacled tradition began in 1952 when fewer NHL teams meant that the road to the Stanley Cup only took eight playoff wins. Thus, the eight legs on an octopus would symbolize the road to the Stanley cup with eight winning games. Since then, hundreds of octopi have rained down onto the Redwing rink.
With every octopus purchased for the purpose of tossing, the Superior Fish Market gives out an "Octoquette," which is a pamphlet of recommended guidelines for octopus tossing, including boiling the octopus for half an hour (raw octopus tends to stick to the ice and leave a slimy residue when removed), launching them only after a Redwing goal as any other time may result in a Delay of Game penalty, and tossing the octopus in a direction away from any players, officials, and personnel.
The Haka — Maori War Dance
The All Blacks, the international rugby team of New Zealand, do a traditional Māori Haka dance before international matches and it might seem weird to some people, but it sure is intimidating.
At the very least as a scare tactic, why more sports teams don't do this is a complete mystery.
The team, made up mostly of Māori players, performed a Haka before the first match against Surrey.
One version of the Haka is both war chant and challenge and is customarily performed by the All Blacks before major games against non-New Zealand teams.
The chant is roughly translated as:
It is [the end of life], it is [the end of life]
It is life, it is life
This is the hairy man
Who caused the sun to shine again for me
Up the ladder, up the ladder
Up to the top
The sun shines.
The dance, as you can imagine, consists of loud chanting, aggressive flailing of arms and stomping of feet, fierce looks and, in the end, an angry sticking out of tongues. The dance was supposed to be done in traditional Māori garb, but the costumes were discarded in favor of their uniforms.
Ecuadorian National Soccer Team's 'Witch Doctor'
Ecuador’s national team knew they needed help if they were to succeed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
They found help in Tzamarenda Naychapi, a mystic who London’s The Guardian called a "witch doctor-cum-shaman-cum-priest-type-fella," to help enlist the aide of supernatural spirits.
Naychapi supposedly visited each of the 12 stadiums being used in the World Cup and chased away any lingering evil spirits and worked a little magic on the pitches and goals themselves. Wonder what a guy like that will run you for doing mattresses.
Apparently the magic worked, though. They defeated Poland and Costa Rica in group play to advance to the 16th round.
John Henderson (Jacksonville Jaguars)'s Ritual
Standing at 6’7" and 335 pounds, Jacksonville Jaguars' John Henderson has assistant team trainer Joe Sheehan slap him open-handed across the face as hard as he can as a pre-game ritual, Tyler Durden style.
Henderson uses the strange ritual as a way to get amped up for the game by taking the day’s first hit in a controlled environment in the locker room.
Apparently the strategy works, as Henderson has twice made the Pro Bowl since Sheehan started unloading on him.
The first rule of John Henderson's pre-game ritual is that you don't talk about John Henderson's pre-game ritual, but you do watch WTF YouTube videos with the ritual in it.