Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Sport Team Identification and Belief in Team Curses: The Case of the Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Bambino

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Sport Team Identification and Belief in Team Curses: The Case of the Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Bambino

Article excerpt

Although research (Anderson & Stone, 1981; Lieberman, 1991 ; Thomas, 1986) indicates that most people are at least moderately involved in sport as fans (i.e., persons with an interest in a sport, team, and/or player, see Warm, Meinick, Russell, & Pease, 2001), relatively little is known about the cognitive, affective, and behavioral reactions of these persons (at least relative to information on athletes). In fact, in their research of the sport psychological and sport sociological literatures, Warm and Hamlet (1995) found that less than five percent of the research had targeted fans and spectators. Recent years appear to have seen an increase in research on fans (Wannet al., 2001), and our understanding of topics such as fan violence (Mustonen, Arms, & Russell, 1996; Warm, 1993), hero worship (Wann et al., 2001), perceptions of other fans (Warm & Branscombe, 1995; Wann & Grieve, 2005), and attendance (Laverie & Arnett, 2000; Trail, Anderson, & Fink, 2000; Wakefield, 1995; Zhang, Pease, Hui, & Michaud, 1995) has improved. However, many topics related to the reactions of these persons have yet to be empirically examined. One such topic, and the focus of the current investigation, involves the tendency for fans to believe that certain teams are or have been cursed.

Researchers and theorists from a variety of social scientific backgrounds have reviewed a number of different curses. For example, authors have discussed the possibility of curses impacting people such as members of the Barrymore and Kennedy families (Cawley, 1998; Klein, 2003), places such the town of Carlisle, England (Dix, 2005), and things such as the Hope Diamond (Goldman, 2002). Researchers have also examined curses plaguing archeological projects at various locations, such as the Mummy's Curse of King Tut's Tomb (Rompalske, 2000; Soren, 2000). Curses were popular in many ancient cultures and civilizations including Babylonian, Latin, Egyptian, Islamic, and Irish, to name but a few (Faraone, Garland, & Lopez-Ruiz, 2005; Frankfurter, 2006; Kitz, 2004). Certainly, there are a number of different Biblical curses, including those mentioned in Deuteronomy, Job, Daniel, and Exodus (Moore, 2004; Pettys, 2002; Swartz, 2006; Wittstruck, 1978). However, curses are not limited to ancient times. Rather, curses can also be found among individuals residing in modern cultures, including persons in Africa, Asia, India, and even the United States (Golden, 1977; Johnson et al., 1999; Small, 1999).

With respect to sport, curses have been discussed in several sports, such as professional football ("Tricky Pickings," 2005) and professional golf("Bunkered Champions," 1994). In fact, even a national sport publication, Sports Illustrated, is thought by some to be cursed, leading to tragedy or poor performances by those appearing on the cover ("Sports Illustrated," 2006). The sport that may have the longest and most elaborate relationship with curses is Major League Baseball. A number of different teams have been thought by persons to be cursed at various times and for various reasons (Roberts, 2004), including the St. Louis Cardinals (the curse of Keith Hernandez), the Chicago White Sox (the curse of the "Black Sox"), and the New York/San Francisco Giants (the curse of Coogan's Bluff). The most often discussed baseball curses appear to involve the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox (Weir, 2003). According to legend, the Chicago Cubs were cursed in 1945 when the team would not allow the owner of a local tavern, William Sianis, to bring his goat into Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs). This angered Sianis who placed a curse on the Cubs, saying that they would never again win a National League Championship ("The Ball Gets It," 2004).

As for the Boston Red Sox, their curse to believed to have resulted from the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in early 1920 ("Curse of the Bambino," 2006; Shaughnessy, 2004). A number of poor performances by individual Red Sox players and the team as a whole have been blamed on the curse. …

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