The 15 Best Traditions In Sports
People love sports traditions because they unite an entire fanbase. Traditions transcend individuals and connect the owners to the players to the fans to the security guards.
Each tradition is special in its own way. Whether it was started long ago or came about by accident or just by chance, each tradition keeps a special place in sports fans' hearts and remains an expression of loyalty to their team, or to athletics in general.
Here are the best of the quirky, the superstitious and the ones that make you tingle all over: The best traditions in sports.
15. Pie in the Face After a Walk-Off
A tradition used strictly in baseball, a player is usually pied in the face after a walk off hit. However, they may also find themselves pied if they pitch a no hitter or perform some other heroic act for their team.
The pie is usually deployed while the player is giving an on-field post game press conference. That way the player is concentrating on something else, can't really run away because they've got equipment hooked up to them and look like a fool on national TV, it's the optimal pieing time.
Pies are usually made of shaving cream but I was interested when I found this picture of a player using and actual pie. Where do these pies come from? Do they store them in the clubhouse just in case? Is it possible for them to use an apple pie instead because it tastes better?
Despite the questions, I'd much rather get pied by a real pie than a shaving cream pie, unless you were planning to shave after the game, but I suppose that's beside the point.
Moral of the story: When it comes to pieing, a little extra effort goes a long way.
14. Play Like a Champion Today
The slogan "Play Like a Champion Today" has been linked with the University of Notre Dame since the 1800s, but the sign was originally used in the locker room by ND coaching legend Lou Holtz.
Traditionally, the players touch the sign on their way out of the tunnel and onto the field.
Notre Dame is arguably the most prestigious football school of all time, thus there's a discrepancy between all other traditions, and Notre Dame traditions. Hey, they do have God on their side after all.
The players touching the sign embodies the university's commitment to excellence and the simple slogan is one of the most iconic motivational quotes known today.
13. Not Acknowledging a Player's First Career Home Run
Origins are sketchy but you have to love this tasteful and funny tradition.
There's nothing like seeing a bright eyed 20-something-year-old MLB rookie smack his first home run and round the bases with a huge smile only to get back into the dugout and find his teammates staring at their feet.
The tradition is somewhat superstitious because they don't want to jinx the player, but it's first and foremost a prank on an energetic rookie.
Needless to say, the dugout usually breaks the silent treatment later on, but the tradition still remains rich.
12. Exchanging of the Jerseys
Jersey swapping is said to have originated in 1931 after France stunned England in a friendly match by scoring five goals against the football powerhouse.
The French asked for the English player's jerseys as a sign of respect and a way to commemorate their victory, thus jersey swapping was born.
Currently, FIFA does not allow the exchanging of jerseys after games but the rule is enforced loosely. Frankly, it's better to make it legal. It's a great display of sportsmanship in a game where the fanbases are passionate to the point where things can get out of control sometimes. Seeing players swap jerseys is a big reality check to all the fans that it's just a game and that your opponents deserve sportsmanship and respect.
After all, nothing says I respect you like a shirt that's just seen 90 minutes of perspiration, how's that thing smell, Bastian?
11. Seventh Inning Stretch
The seventh inning stretch is a baseball tradition where all the fans rise from their seats during the middle of the seventh inning, give their arms and legs a stretch and maybe get a late-game snack.
The origins of the seventh inning stretch are disputed but the tradition may date back to the late 19th century. However popular culture would have you believe that former President William Howard Taft stood up to stretch at a Washington Senators game in 1910, upon seeing their Commander and Chief rise, the entire stadium stood up.
What makes this tradition so great is that it's still around even though it's not really necessary. Back then the bleachers were hard, uncomfortable benches and people weren't on their cell phones or getting snacks every inning, they just sat there and watched the game, so the stretch was needed.
Now, it's not required so much but we still honor it.
10. Detroit Fans Tossing the Octopus
Believe it or not, Detroit fans tossing live octopi onto the ice is not the brainchild of some drunk idiots trying to make a funny. The tradition actually dates back to 1952.
Back then, teams played two best of seven series to capture the Stanley Cup. The octopus became a symbol of victory because it had eight arms and the Red Wings needed eight wins to drink from Lord Stanley's Cup.
Brothers Jerry and Pete Cusimano made the first move by nicking a octopus from the market that they owned and throwing it onto the ice during a playoff game. The Wings went on to sweep the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs en route to a championship.
Since then, the octopus has become a symbol of Detroit Hockey, and during every home playoff game it is customary to throw octopi onto the ice.
A purple octopus named Al has even become the team's unofficial mascot.
Fans took the tradition a bit too far in 1995 when 36 octopi were thrown onto the ice, including a specimen weighing in at 38 pounds (holy s***).
In an effort to extend the lore of the octopus, Wings fans have developed a proper etiquette and technique when throwing the creatures onto the ice (note: I don't believe licking it is part of the etiquette).
9. The Lambeau Leap
A tradition so popular it's become common vernacular, the Lambeau Leap was invented in 1993 and has caught on like wildfire since.
Packers safety Leroy Butler scored off of a Reggie White fumble recovery and lateral versus the Raiders in 1993 and impulsively leaped into the waiting arms of the Green Bay faithful, the Lambeau Leap was born.
It's been duplicated and knocked off by many a non-Packer, but the fact that the leap has managed to retain the name of the place in which it started is a testament to the richness of this celebratory tradition.
8. The Gatorade Bath
The Gatorade bath is a sports tradition that was started in the mid-80s by NFL players.
The Giants claimed they started it in 1985 when they doused coach Bill Parcells, however the Bears would argue that they started it in 1984 when they showered Mike Ditka after clinching the division.
The tradition gained fame in 1986 after Parcells was doused 17 times that year, including a Superbowl win (man, that must have sucked).
While the tradition may not seem that appealing to coaches the image of someone tipping the bucket on their coach's head can only conjure up memories of euphoria and victory, making this tradition especially sweet (no pun intended).
7. Hockey Playoff Beards
This tradition entails an entire hockey team ceasing to shave when they make the playoffs and not shaving again until they are eliminated or win the Stanley Cup.
Beards were started in the 1980s by the New York Islanders during their dominant era. After their dynasty faded, the tradition went back into the fold until the New Jersey Devils broke out the facial hair again in 1995 and went on to win the Cup. It has since became standard issue for the NHL.
Statistics have shown that the beards only work 6% of the time for NHL teams, but it just wouldn't be the playoffs without the beards.
6. Drinking Milk After the Indy 500
In 1936, Louis Meyer found himself in the winner's circle at the Indianapolis 500. What's the first thing Meyer reached for? Why, a nice cold bottle of buttermilk to refresh him.
Meyer was photographed gulping down the beverage and the image ultimately made its way to the National Dairy Council who saw a golden marketing opportunity: Make sure from that day on, that every winner of the Indy 500 was seen slugging a bottle of milk!
A tradition was born, one of the most original ones in sports. You could have no motorsports knowledge like me and still know what race was just run when you see someone drinking a bottle of milk.
I wonder what happens when the winner is lactose intolerant? Is soy milk the drink of lactose intolerant champions?
5. Rushing the Court/Field
Rushing or storming the field is a tradition with sketchy origins, but nonetheless a great practice.
Rushing the field/court is great because it transcends ages and nations. Whether it's a pitch invasion (what it's called in soccer) or a rushing of the court. A high school football game or the national championship, rushing the field is just as exciting.
The tradition is most commonly associated with big upsets or wins, so rushing the field is another tradition that burns in your memory. Injuries from stampedes have caused security around arenas and stadiums to beef up security, but that doesn't stop students and fans from partying on the field/court after a huge win.
4. Chief Osceola and the Planting of the Spear
In 1962, Florida State sophomore Bill Durham dreamt up the idea of having a mascot dressed as a Seminole chief ride out on a horse and plant a burning spear into the middle of the field before every FSU football game.
Durham's visions never came to fruition until word of the old idea reached Bobby Bowden in 1977, who berthed one of college football's greatest traditions.
Durham got the OK from the Seminole tribe in 1978 and during FSU's opener that season, Chief Osceola and his trusty steed Renegade took their first ride to the 50 yard line to plant the burning spear and signal the start of the game.
Since then, Chief Osceola takes the ride out to midfield and plants the burning spear at every home game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Osceola also switches things up a bit every two years when Florida visits Talahassee, jumping off his horse before planting the spear.
You gotta love this tradition because it pays homage to the Seminole tribe and the war chant that accompanies Osceola's ride is spine-tingling. The spear is also burning, which is always a plus.
3. You'll Never Walk Alone
The old showtune "You'll Never Walk Alone" was covered by the Liverpudlian band Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963. The song was a smash hit in the UK, peaking at No. 1 on the charts for four straight weeks.
Back in those days, the DJ at Anfield would play the songs that comprised the radio's Top 10 to keep the supporters entertained, ending with the No. 1 song right before kickoff.
Liverpool supporters in the Spion Kop would sing along to You'll Never Walk Alone when it was played at Anfield and even after the song dropped out of the Top 10 and wasn't being played anymore before games, Liverpool FC supporters still sang along to the song.
The rest is history, the phrase "You'll Never Walk Alone" is now the face of the franchise and can be seen on anywhere from the club's insignia to the Shankly gates at the entrance to Anfield. Of course, the song is still sung before every game.
I don't care if you're a football fan or not, this will send shivers up your spine.
2. The Hockey Handshake
A tradition that pre-dates the NHL, the post-game hockey handshake at center ice is one of sports' most iconic traditions.
The ultimate form of sportsmanship, the handshake at center ice is much more than just saying good job.
It's an expression of the utmost respect for the guys on the other side of the ice who worked just as hard as you. The handshake carries more weight in a playoff series because it's the end of a grueling season and these players leave everything on the ice.
It's no secret hockey is a chippy, rough and tumble sport but everyone checks their egos at the door during the handshake, wipes the slate clean and says "what's done is done, great game". Something people today could use a lot more of.
What's great about this tradition is that fans often label hockey players as barbarians or grizzly men. Yet we have LeBron James storming off the court like a baby a couple of years ago, and numerous NFL coaches refusing to shake hands every season.
Here we have these hulking hockey players having the class series in and series out to shake their opponents hand and show their true appreciation for the sport, and the other teams' efforts.
1. The Haka
The Haka is a traditional dance of the Maori people of New Zealand, and the signature dance of the New Zealand rugby national team, referred to as the All Blacks.
While the Haka was used for a variety of occasions way back when, the All Blacks perform a special Haka called the Ka Mate, which is associated with preparing for war. The dance includes vigorous and violent body movements, accompanied by aggressive chanting and fierce facial expressions.
The All Blacks' Haka is so great because the first one was performed in 1884 before a rugby match and has been repeated before every match since. It's probably the most seasoned tradition in all of sports.
The Haka is also used by other teams neighboring New Zealand, as well as the Hawaii football team, but the Ka Mate remains the golden standard, and it's easy to see why.
The International Rugby Federation tried to ban the Ka Mate, because it was a non-sporting act designed solely to intimidate, however the Haka is so rooted in the All Blacks and embedded in New Zealand culture that the motion was overruled. A testament to the strength and weight of the tradition.
Best of all, the Haka isn't your typical pre-game warmup. Some of the intimidation tactics you see today are decent, but they don't hold a candle to a bunch of hulking guys performing a war dance that was most likely performed by their ancestors in an attempt to protect their people.
Its intensity makes it awesome, it's rich history makes it the best tradition in all of sports.