Sports traditions: octopi on the ice and other timeless practices
March 31, 2011
Filed under Archives
Sports are all about the people who play the game, the people who attend them, and the places the hallowed games are played. Traditions rule sports.
Sports fans live for experiences like going to the Boston Garden with its traditional parquet floor, watching Clemson’s players rub Howard’s Rock before charging down the hill at Death Valley, or even sitting back on a sunny afternoon while the sun catches the ivy on Wrigley Park’s outfield field and a deranged celebrity belts out the National Anthem are all the things sports fans live for.
Traditions bring us back over and over again to see the things our parents and grandparents saw and feel the same rush that they felt. We get to feel the excitement while the Ohio State marching band dots the ‘i’ in Ohio, or when the Miami Hurricanes football team charges out of the smoke to take the field.
Likewise, the players get to share the same experiences their forebearers did. Every Notre Dame football players gets to touch the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign as they enter the field and all the international soccer players get to exchange jerseys with their opponents following a hard-fought match.
But while the stirring traditions get our hearts pounding and collective pride stirring, the bizarre traditions are equally worthwhile. The weirdness includes the Detroit Red Wing fans who throw octopi on the ice during every home playoff game, or the post-game pie in the face for baseball players who hit a walk-off homerun.
These traditions add fun to the games and allow fans and players to have fun. These are, in fact, games, and not matters of life and death, as some would tell you.
I must mention one awe-inspiring tradition above others that stands apart. The traditional Haka dance, performed by the New Zealand Rugby team, is truly spectacular as the All Blacks strut before their opponents, slapping their chests and thighs while sticking their tongues out and making grotesque faces.
The Haka has been a tradition of the All Blacks since 1884 and is still as much fun to watch now as I’m sure it was over 120 years ago.
And that’s the thing about traditions. They live on. Longer than you, longer than me, and they seemingly never get stale. They will be fresh for your grandchildren and for mine. We will always have them.