Humans are more likely to turn to magical or occult powers when they face situations where the outcome is important and uncertain, beyond their control. Magic was used for situations when chance or luck matter a lot. Rituals, taboos and fetishes are different practices or objects that pertain to magic. A ritual is a set of actions performed mainly for their symbolic value by certain community or religion. A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred or forbidden based on moral judgment or religious beliefs. Fetish refers to the attribution of religious or mystical qualities to inanimate objects.
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Taboos, fetishes and rituals are rife in baseball and, indeed, in other sports. The best evidence that players turn to rituals, taboos, and fetishes to control chance and uncertainty is found in their uneven application. They are associated mainly with pitching and hitting-the activities with the highest degree of chance-and not fielding. The most common way players attempt to reduce chance and their feelings of uncertainty is to develop and follow a daily routine, a course of action which is regularly followed. They don't want anything to alter the routine because they believe it will destroy their good luck. Most rituals are personal though as they are performed by an individual rather than by the whole team or group. An example of such kind of ritual is tugging at the cap. These rituals are invariable depending on the player.
In most cases, a player performs a certain ritual when he is on a good run of result. Taboos are more of the opposite of rituals. Breaking a taboo, players believe, leads to undesirable consequences or bad luck. Most players observe at least a few taboos, such as never stepping on the white foul lines. Taboos usually grow out of some exceptionally poor performance. Mentioning a no-hitter (a game where one team has no hits) is considered taboo, it is believed that if a pitcher hears the words "no-hitter," the spell accounting for this hard to achieve feat will be broken and the no-hitter lost. Fetishes are also common amongst baseball players. Fetishes are materials or objects that take the body of a supernatural power. Good luck charms are also common and vary from a wide range of objects from coins to shirt numbers.
Taboos, rituals and fetishes also do exist in other sport. In soccer for example, it is common for opposing teams to line up before the match and shake hands. Before they get to the pitch, the two opposing teams are led in line by the respective team captain followed by the goalkeeper and then the rest of the squad. Taboos are also common in soccer. Most soccer teams do not allow players to engage in sex days before the game, the reason being that they will bring bad luck. These practices are consistent with the rituals, taboos and fetishes of baseball.
Most rituals, taboos and fetishes seem to have a religious origin. In Catholicism, for example, a rosary is considered as a protection against evil. Most Catholics therefore will be seen having or carrying a rosary around. In the Muslim religion it is taboo to enter into the mosque with shoes on the mosque. Some foods are strictly forbidden in certain religious settings. The Muslim religion does not allow its followers to eat pork. No conclusive explanation has ever been reached as to why this is so. Many Hindus, particularly Brahmins, are vegetarian, abstaining from eating meat. Even those Hindus who do eat meat abstain from the consumption of beef, as the cow holds a sacred place in Hinduism. Consumption of beef is taboo out of respect for the cow because it is regarded as a religious object. Certain rituals are also performed amongst some religious groups. Washing feet before entering the mosque is common amongst Muslim. This ensures that they are 'clean' before entering the sacred place. A tradition among the Muslim is an annual religious trip to Mecca for pilgrimage.
Traditions or rituals, taboos and fetishes do exist and vary from sport to sport, religion to religion, place to place and even from person to person. Some of these practices may be mere superstitions and others may hold. What matters is how you consider what and how you carry out your ritual or taboo. It may be in the mind.
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