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UK conspiracy theory expert explains sports fans game day superstitions

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Posted at 7:34 PM, Mar 15, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Just about everyone has some form of superstition or ritual they follow, especially when it comes to sports fans and athletes. With March Madness upon us, fans and athletes say they know the power of these superstitions.

It may be spring break on the University of Kentucky’s campus but fans that are on campus know the power of game day superstitions.

One University of Kentucky, Junior, Audrey Cruser, says, "Friends of mine will, in fact, leave the room or not watch certain games if they think they're gonna impact win or lose."

As UK's basketball teams participate in March Madness one fan says fan rituals can boost athletes mentally.

Another UK fan, Jesse Knight, says, "Sometimes the fans actually get into the head of their opponents."

Younger U.K. fans who are eighth-grade volleyball athletes say you never know where your extra luck will come from.

One player, Lilah Klei, says, "Definitely have to listen to music and it has to be the right songs."

Another athlete, Josie Hartwell, says, "I don't wash my knee pads before games...just because I think my sweat is lucky."

Why do fans and athletes go through these rituals?

This expert on conspiracy theories sheds a little bit more light on why.

"We might have sort of mystical beliefs or things like magical thinking where it comes to sports teams and sometimes there are things like confirmation bias,” says U.K. Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Writing, Dr. Jenny Rice.

For example, Friday the 13th is like any other day -- but if something bad happens that particular day, it might confirm your belief that it's unlucky.

These game-day rituals can work the same way. Dr. Rice explains, "You know you have a team and you've been wearing a certain jersey, every time you wear that jersey and every time you watch that team they win."

It all comes down to the community these rituals and superstitions create among athletes and fans.

"It really does create...you know we often talk about a 'Wildcat Nation' or something that there really is like a familial bond or a whole different level of community and as an athlete that can really boost you in terms of that level of support you have,” says Dr. Rice.

The UK men's basketball team will face St. Peter's this Thursday for their first game of the NCAA tournament. So grab those lucky socks, wear your lucky hat -- whatever you need to do to support the cats.