Top 5 bizarre sports rituals from around the globe by SmartSport™

  • humor

Sports customs of different countries all over the world have been amazing people for centuries with their strangeness and eccentricity. People keep up weird national traditions, not only in their daily lives, but also in a professional sports career. What seems natural to some nations, seems completely absurd to others. While certain countries astonish with their outstanding national sports innovations, like the annual wife carrying championship in Finland, elephant polo in Thailand, cheese rolling in the UK, or Shovel racing in some parts of United States, others boggle the imagination with odd rituals and superstitions.

The beliefs are related to specific sports disciplines, as well as the particular cultural background.

SmartSport™ makes a short virtual trip around the globe, to discover the most impressive sports customs.


1. Identified flying objects: rats and octopi in NHL matches, the US and Canada

Hockey fans will do everything to support their beloved teams. What is the best way to show your devotion and appreciation for you? Gifts! The spectators don’t come to a match with empty handed. It started as a gesture to congratulate hat-trick scorers when fans would throw baseball hats or stuffed toys to honor the hero of the game, which then ended up being a lucky symbol. The tradition developed however, the things they launched have become a lot more off the beaten track.

There are two main attributes for a successful game, with two different histories.

The octopus is one of the most popular in the NHL animals to fly over the ice arena. In 1952 the Kuzmino brothers brought the fishy animal to the game, claiming that every tentacle symbolized the victory of their hockey team. Whether it was thanks to the octopus or not, they managed to win and the sea animal became the exotic talisman of lucky matches.

The throwing of rats is a no less popular ritual. In 1996, the captain of the Panthers came across a rat in the dressing room and killed it with his hockey-stick. During the following game, the player made his mark by scoring two goals with the same stick. The incident started a tradition to throw a rat after every significant goal; however, it is fortunate that the rats are toys; which is not the case with the octopi.


2. New Zealand war haka rugby

How to frighten an opponent, show your power and superiority? The national rugby team of New Zealand chose to perform a dance before every single match, starting from 1905. The Haka is performed before a battle by Maori people. As true warriors, the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ keep up the tradition to make the national war dance widely known around the world. Now, all rugby fans recognize the amusing moves, which have already become the team’s hallmark.

As a war dance, it looks extremely emotional and artistically expressive. However, performing the haka does bear fruit, 8-time participants of the world championships, ‘The All Blacks’ have won the trophy 3 times. Currently, they are the only national team to achieve this success.


3. Chinese secret ingredient

It is widely known that nutrition is an important part of sporting preparation, which can help to develop stamina and compensate for major energy demands. As a rule, the most popular foodstuffs known for their efficiency are nuts cereals, fish or meat. However, the Chinese came up with a more creative solution. The Asian Olympic champions recuperate eating a soup with a secret ingredient. Any ideas?

There is an ancient recipe for a soup made with … bull’s penises. The dish is famous for its curative properties and as an aphrodisiac. Looks like it helps in the sports performance field as well. Be it through the sacrifice of the poor animals or not, the Chinese national team won 100 medals, 51 of which were gold, at the 2008 Olympics, when this specialty was included into their weekly menu.


4. Everton’s Toffee Lady, Britain

Among sports teams, it is a widespread custom to have your own mascot. In British football, Everton football club in particular, believe in a Toffee Lady, who brings luck. The tradition is more likely to be cute than weird. The toffee lady is probably the oldest sports talisman, deriving from the 19th century, when a candy lady made a pact with the Everton team to visit each home match and bring free samples. Her spectacular dress astonished everyone and the Toffee Lady turned into a regular mascot and an integral part of every home game of the team later dubbed as “The Toffees”.

Nowadays the role is delegated to the latest generation: little girls dressed in blue walk around with baskets full of mint candies and throw them into the crowd.


5. Dogs on the football pitch, Brazil

Now let’s move on to Brazil. The country is famous for its love of soap operas and football. Talking about the first, no matter what you do, the outcome is beyond one's influence, however, football games are a little more unpredictable, so a bit of luck wouldn't go amiss. What else haven’t we heard from the rubric: “it’s for luck”?

In Brazilian football peeing brings luck if you are talking about a dog named Biriba. In the mid 40’s a stray dog invaded the football pitch, which distracted the players of Bonsucesso and Botafogo succeeded in scoring a goal. The dog was adopted by the team and participated in every game. Once, right before an important match, the Botafogo’s pet pee’d on the foot of a footballer and the team ended up winning the match and the whole championship. From then onward the peeing dog became a symbol of good luck. Who cares how odd the custom is, if it works?

All in all, the world of sport is full of superstitions and various customs, which differ from nation to nation. Learning traditional peculiarities is a type of coming around to the national culture in general and discovering something new. However, it is one thing to read about it, quite another to see for yourself. Which country amazes you the most? Book your training camp with SmartSport™ to experience new sporting destinations.


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