Superstition Marathon: The Soccer World Cup Has Kicked Off, So It’s Peak Season for Irrationality


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It’s fútbol time! If you’re a soccer fan, like me, the next four and a half weeks are going to be exciting. We’ll witness astonishing ball skills, tactical genius, lots of grit and feats of stamina, and the occasional on-pitch thuggery (four years ago, the Dutch team played a series of shocking anything-goes World Cup games so brutal they would’ve made Attila the Hun blush).

By Terry FirmaFriendly Atheist

But something else is going to be on clear display: superstition. Whether it’s players’lucky underwear, their habit of kissing a cross-shaped pendant prior to kick-off, or, after scoring a goal, pointing to the sky in praise of the Creator, unabashedly irrational behavior will be rampant. (England’s Gary Lineker was famous for not shooting on goal during the pre-game warm-up, as he thought he’d be “wasting” perfectly good goal-scoring opportunities.)

The superstition marathon started right on cue yesterday. Before the opening game between Brazil and Croatia, the Croatian goalkeeper, Stipe Pletikosa, could be seen making the sign of the cross. Granted, that’s now so common among athletes as to be unremarkable. However, via allsports.com, we learn that:

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