Saturday, December 20, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #208, Dec. 22, 2008 (

After Further Review A recent newspaper article discussed how superstitions might have a controlling effect on one’s physical performance in a game. Such acts as a baseball player stepping out of the batter’s box to re-strap his Velcro batting gloves (every time!) before the next pitch, or a player wearing his college shorts underneath his professional game shorts. What for? Luck? Ridiculous! Or is it?

Many basketball players bounce the ball a number of times (usually 2-3-4) before shooting a free throw. Baseball players step on a base bag, others step over the foul line – not “on” it – when running to their positions. As an NFL referee, after the coin toss, as I would take my kickoff position in the end zone, I would stand with my back to the goal post and tap it with my hands behind me! Was it for “luck” or just reminding me to focus on my task at hand?

Most teams say prayers before a game. Are they asking God to help them win or to help them play better or just to play free of injury? Does praying help? If Notre Dame, a Catholic University, is playing Boston College, also Catholic, and both teams/schools use similar prayers for victory -- how does God decide whom to help? Or Notre Dame vs. Brigham Young University , a Mormon school, does God play “religious favorites?” I love the story about a Rabbi and a Catholic Priest at a baseball game. As the batter stepped into the batter’s box, he crossed himself, (made the sign of the cross); the Rabbi said to the Priest, “Does that help?” The Priest replied, “Not if he can’t hit!”

Is prayer considered a “superstition?” The opinion here is that prayer is talking to yourself through God – whoever you determine God to be – to help you pull together all your inner strengths in order to give your best performance. Does God really care if you “win?” God has a lot more to do than care whether or not you win! Superstitions, including even prayer, provide you with a purpose, a routine – an inner strength if you will. And that word – WILL – is the key.

In every performance – be it dancing, singing, playing an instrument or in sports, focus is the key; assuming, of course, that you have done all the necessary preparation to be ready – physically and mentally - to give your best effort.

Will you practice a routine – “game plan” if you will – to focus on giving your best performance?

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