In my everyday life I’m a cold, secular rationalist. But I am superstitious about exactly one thing: sports.
In my mind, part of what makes being a fan fun is suspending your disbelief and allowing the conceit that what you do, as a spectator, might have a small impact on the game. Of course, since football is a game of inches, small impacts are never really small.
In that context, superstition can be maddeningly consequential. So I think it’s very important that Cal fans figure out how to not jinx their Bears. Here are the rules I can think of. If you disagree or can think of others, please alert all of us in the comments.
Don’t Boo Your Bears
Avinash’s recent post on this subject got me thinking. In my humble opinion, the hallmark of fandom is loyalty. Loyalty doesn’t mean blind devotion. It’s OK to be disappointed or even disgusted by your team.
But loyalty requires that you not turn on your team. If you boo your team, you’re turning on them. The football gods will assess your fandom as poor and appropriately reward you with poor performance. You don’t boo your family and you don’t boo your country, even in Berkeley. You especially don’t boo your Alma Mater.
Don’t Wear Red
I know this one sounds obvious, but I’m not just talking about game day here. Don’t wear red ever. Your wardrobe has no room for it. Aside from maybe holiday-themed neckties or undergarments, red clothing is totally unnecessarily. Get rid of it and, trust me, no one will notice.
Don’t Hook Up With Stanfordites
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say it would never happen, but at some point in your life you’re going to be tempted — be it out of lust, desperation, intoxication or pity (perhaps self-pity). Some Cardinal girl or guy will stroll up wearing a ridiculous costume made of cardboard tubing, sequins and glitter-glue and will say some boring nonsense meant to be cleverly ironic…and you’ll be tempted.
You’re better than that, and your Bears need you to stay strong even in moments of weakness.
Don’t Start “Roll On You Bears” Until Cal Crosses Midfield
This one kills me every time. Some drunk yahoo starts up "Roll On" as soon as Cal makes a first down at their own 33. This of course assures a 1.5 yard run, followed by two incompletions and a punt. If you don’t wait until Cal crosses the 50, Cal will not cross the 50.
Don’t Root for Stanford
Ever. Even if they’re beating U$C. Even if they’re up against Notre Dame or Texas or some other miserable excuse for an institution of higher learning. And don’t root for U$C unless they’re playing Stanford or Notre Dame or representing the conference in a bowl game.
You can root for UCLA occasionally, with condescension.
Don’t Miss Games
Depending on where you live, you can’t always attend the games, but you can always either watch them or at least listen to them. Living in New York, this rule hasn’t always been easy for me to follow, especially during the Holmoe years when only a couple games would be available on TV here each season.
It is crucial that you don't make exceptions, even for weddings. Your friends should know to not schedule their weddings on fall Saturdays. Case in point: I attended a wedding instead of watching the OSU game last year. Trust me, you don’t want something like that on your conscience.
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