Ruining everything with your big, dumb mouth is a simple art.
All it takes is one word—one stupid, awful utterance to ruin an entire season for yourself, a team and a legion of fellow fans.
Thus is the nature of the jinx—the unstoppable Rube Goldberg machine of karma.
Someone makes one cocky remark and it sets off an entire network of dung-slathered pulleys and levers that exist for the sole purpose of raining feces and failure down upon the fragile Sunday church crown that is your team's dream for a championship trophy.
With that said, the following are a number of surefire ways to trip the trigger on the karmic crap cannon and jinx yourself and your team into despair. By not doing these things (and continuing to harbor an almost crippling sense of paranoid superstition) you just might be able to pull out the win and avoid ruining everything for everyone.
Don't! Stop! Put that down!
I keep a rolled up newspaper on me at all times in case someone starts using this shopworn phrase. Don't even talk about the potential injury of a specific athlete during the game.
To be clear, speaking abstractly about a team as a whole "staying healthy" is acceptable. The same goes for an athlete who has just returned from an injury. But discussing a healthy athlete possibly getting injured is just blasphemous jinxing.
"That's right, Bob. Johnny Shootgoose has been absolutely phenomenal from the free-throw line so far this year. He's averaging 87 percent from the stripe and hasn't missed since—well, except for right there."
The moment a sportscaster begins talking about how so-and-so has been "outstanding" from the charity stripe is the moment the arena is graced with the sound of "oops" hitting iron.
Sometimes we get caught up and miss the first half of the game.
That's no big deal, just tune in and catch up—unless your team happens to be beating an opponent they have no business beating. In this case, it's your duty as a fan to not watch the game.
Flipping on the tube is tantamount to sports suicide at this point. The moment you tune in, an ungodly hellfire of scoring by the opposition is guaranteed to commence. This isn't a "maybe," it is a scientific fact—and anyone who has ever tuned in late to this kind of long shot situation can attest to it.
Clearly, you were doing something right by not watching television. The players felt it in their marrow that some poor schmuck was missing out and decided to commemorate it by putting on a show in your absence. So put down the remote, head to a storm cellar and bury your eyes in a bag of road salt until it's all over.
"[Laughs] You know what we 'gon call this? The shirts against the blouses!"
You poor fool. You have no idea of the dragons you've stirred.
Talking trash before a game doesn't do you any favors. You're lighting fires and signing checks that can only be used against you. The best case scenario for pregame smack talk is you win the game and go home a goon.
The worst scenario involves you sitting in Prince's kitchen, humbled by a man with a ruffle shirt and a stack of flap jacks.
"Hey! Cool new jersey! Too bad we lost and we'll have to cover it in fire!"
Freshly bought jerseys are rarely good luck. As a matter of fact, all new sporting apparel being worn for the first time is generally an albatross around the neck.
The sporting gods favor rancid attire—the chewed up, mothballed and battle proven. If it looks and smells like it sat in a sweatshop in the back of a Good Will store that's inside an old gymnasium—it has seen some stuff. It has the juju.
Putting on a new jersey and wearing it to the game is basically just shaking your fist at the sky and screaming, "If this jersey isn't lucky STRIKE ME DOWN!"
Sometimes you luck out.
The whims of the universe can be kind and make this jersey your new lucky article. But if you lose, you will never—never—look at this jersey on the hanger with trust ever again.
"That's right, a half million in championship gear...Whoa, do I want to wait until after they win the game? Where are we? The Soviet bloc?"
Locate your cart. Is it in front of your horses? Is it draped in 19-0 Patriots shirts, unused confetti poppers and warm champagne?
If so, congratulations! You've gotten ahead of yourself, and are possibly related to Mitch Modell, owner of Modell's Sporting Goods.
If you're not familiar with Modell's, it's the Northeastern sports wear outlet that spent $500,000 on the above shirts preemptively touting the Patriots as the 2013-14 AFC Champions. On the bright side, Modell's is donating the shirts to a third-world country, which will probably be thankful to receive a new shipment of Patriots gear.
Their undefeated shirts are getting a bit threadbare.
Pick a blowout. Any kind of blowout.
Expecting your team to crush an opponent is always a good way to set yourself up for a fun evening of drinking and sadness.
To be clear, calling the win is by no means a surefire jinx. Good teams roll inferior competition, hence "good." That said, any "gimme" game with a giant point spread can quickly turn into nightmare for bookies and chest-pounding bandwagoners.
Anyone (besides the '92 Dream Team) can be beaten, and always expecting your side to bring Tag Team back again on lesser opponents is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Just ask "YouTube's number one Kentucky fan," Casual Gamer Reed. During his weekly pick'em in 2011, Reed posted a video claiming Kentucky would blow Indiana out of the water when they came to Bloomington. It turned out to be the ultimate jinx, as it were, and Kentucky lost 73-72.
Suffice it to say, Reed's postgame reaction was a touch more modest.
I get it, Seahawks Super Bowl tattoo dude.
I can understand why you had "Super Bowl XLVIII Champs" ink-stabbed into your forearm. It's August, you're out at a bar, eyeing waitresses and slugging down Redd's Apple Ale. You feel good.
You can't wait for football season and your friends begin talking wins and losses. "Will the 'Hawks clinch the division? We're so complete. I don't see anyone beating us at home."
Next thing you know someone's ordering fireball shots. You take a few salvos down and you're thinking, "You know what? That's it. It's happening." That's when you call it—the thing you've been wanting to say all night. The Seahawks are winning it all this year. You'd bet children's lives and cash on it, but hey—you ain't afraid of exhibition. You'd rather put it right there on your skin.
Are you joking? No, bro. You're not. You'll do it right here, right now. Pay the check, this is happening tonight.
And you did it, and right now you're a game away from being a genius. You're also a game away from jinxing an entire franchise and your fellow fans out of their first Super Bowl victory. Then again, you don't believe in jinxes, and you knew all this before coming into it.
We shall see, bro.
The best way to effectively lose money and become a worse fan/human being is betting on the team you've supported for life.
You're too close to the situation. You're going to bet with your heart, and you're going to overestimate players' abilities. If a tough game is even remotely considered "winnable" among your fellow fans, you're taking your guys.
Granted, it's not wrong to always pick your favorite team to win, but if you're hellbent on making money off them, expect yourself to be disappointed more often than not.
SportsIllustrated, Madden, Horse & Hound—it doesn't matter.
Being on the cover of any popular publication or video seems to be a one-way ticket to bad news.
This isn't always the case, but rest assured, the Madden curse is real. Just ask Peyton Hillis, who went from cover boy to "that contract dispute guy who got injured or something."
The Madden curse isn't undefeated, but the potential for despair waits around the corner every year for the player who ends up plastered across the front.
Never do this.
Never ever even utter the "U" word before the final whistle of the last play of the last game of the season. Putting this word out into the universe prior to accomplishing an undefeated season is equivalent to holding a gun to your team's record and pulling the hammer back.
You might not be the one who actually pulls the trigger, but guarantee that you have primed yourself for a gut shot.
On Twitter, wielding my rolled up newspaper of judgment.