Sports-related curses


Sports-related curses

A sports-related curse is a superstitious belief in the effective action of some power or evil, that is used to explain the failures or misfortunes of specific sports teams, players, or even cities. Teams, players, and cities often cite a "curse" for many negative things, such as their inability to win a sports championship, or unexpected injuries.

#

Curse of 1940

The Curse of 1940 was a mythical explanation for the failure of the NHL's New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup since 1940. It was finally broken when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in 1994.

A

Andretti curse

Since winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, auto racing legend Mario Andretti was plagued with unexplainable bad luck in his efforts to win the great race for a second time before his retirement in 1994. The misfortune at Indianapolis has notably extended to his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John, as well as grandson Marco. It has effected to an indirect extent, his twin brother Aldo, former car owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas, as well as Newman's successor Mike Lanigan at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Twice, when Michael Andretti's team won the Indianapolis 500, the driver subsequently defected to rival Chip Ganassi Racing the following year: Dan Wheldon (2005) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

B

Curse of the Bambino

Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Before the sale, the Red Sox won 4 titles in 7 years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees had gone on to win 26 World Series Championships. The "curse" was broken when the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series (before the Series, the Sox had come back from a 3-games-to-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium for the American League pennant).

Curse of Biddy Early

Biddy Early was a 19th-century healer from Feakle in County Clare remembered as a witch. Her curse or prophecy was said variously to afflict two hurling teams which endured long droughts in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Clare[1][2][3] (19141995) and/or Galway[4][5][6][7] (19231980). The two counties played a famous semi-final in the 1932 Championship:[7] Clare won, but lost the final to Kilkenny.[6] After Clare's "curse" was broken in 1995, Billy Loughnane from Ennis wrote to The Irish Times:[8]

Biddy Early is fondly remembered in Co Clare as an extraordinary woman who devoted her time to comforting and healing the sick. She is not known ever to have cursed anyone. She experienced some difficulty with one local clergyman of the day who, for reasons of his own, would have her labelled a "witch". This clergyman's malicious intentions have been greatly assisted recently by those journalists and commentators (outside of Clare) who have been busily referring to the "Curse of Biddy Early". Who started this silly rubbish? ... Some of these people would try to tell us that Biddy decreed that Clare would win no All-Ireland until after all the 1914 team had passed away. Biddy Early died in 1875 before the foundation of the GAA and long before there was any inter-county competition!

Curse of Billy Penn

The "Curse of Billy Penn"[9] was cited as a reason for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sports teams' failure to win championships since the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. Some[weasel words] fans believe that the city's breaking a gentlemen's agreement in 1987 that no skyscraper could be higher than the statue of William Penn on the top of the spire of City Hall put a curse on the city.

When the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center (Philadelphia's tallest structure to date) was raised on June 18, 2007, iron workers of Local Union 401 attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam in an attempt to break the curse. The following year, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series.

The city's sports teams have also lost in championship finals in years of presidential inaugurations, beginning with the 76ers' loss in the 1977 NBA Finals and includes the Phillies' loss in the 2009 World Series.[10] During that span, each of the four city's teams have lost championships during such years twice.[10]

Curse of Birmingham City FC

English football side Birmingham City FC played 100 years under a curse from 1906 to 2006.[10] As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew's, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people. After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put an 100-year hex on the stadium.

Throughout the years many Birmingham City FC managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players’ boots red. Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City FC celebrated a 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers FC.

Curse of Bobby Layne

This curse is the supposed explanation of the Detroit Lions not having won an NFL Championship or a Super Bowl since 1958. The Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers, after which he said that the Lions wouldn’t win for fifty years. They did not even make an NFL Championship or Super Bowl, and had the worst cumulative record during those fifty years. At the conclusion of the 0-16 2008 Season, former Lions players Corey Smith and Jeff Komlo died. With the first selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Lions selected Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who attended Highland Park High School, which was the same high school Layne attended. He even grew up in a house on the same street as Layne.

Buffalo Sports Curse

The Buffalo curse is an explanation for Buffalo's inability to win a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, or, during the residency of the Buffalo Braves, an NBA championship.[11] Those who believe in the Buffalo curse[12] cite as examples the four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Buffalo Bills from 1990–1993 (and their failure even to reach the playoffs since 1999), as well as the failure of the Buffalo Sabres ever to win the Stanley Cup (despite winning the Presidents' Trophy for most regular-season points in 2006–07). The Bills, however, successfully won two American Football League titles (1964 and 1965), the latter occurring just months before an agreement was reached to merge the AFL and the NFL (Bills owner Ralph Wilson initiated the talks to merge the two leagues, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame). In spite of that, it has been argued that this was achieved when the AFL was in its infancy as an upstart league, garnering little, if any, national attention before merging with the established NFL, and that even if they are considered to be at par, since there would be no Super Bowl until after the 1966 season, the Bills could be no greater than co-champions.[12] There have been conflicting suggestions on how the Bills would have fared against the Green Bay Packers or Cleveland Browns, much as there have been disputes over how well the San Diego Chargers would have done against the Bears in 1963, had the Super Bowl existed at that time.[13] The earliest reference to the curse traces to 1921, when the city's first NFL team, the Buffalo All-Americans, lost the NFL championship that year to what is now the Chicago Bears on a controversial tiebreaker.[14] The curse does not extend to the city's fringe or minor league teams such as baseball's Buffalo Bisons, lacrosse's Buffalo Bandits, women's soccer's Western New York Flash or semi-pro football's Buffalo Gladiators, all of which won championships in their respective leagues. The Flash are arguably not affected by the alleged curse for another reason—although the team has its headquarters and training facilities in Buffalo, and originally planned to divide its home games between Buffalo and Rochester, it played its entire home schedule during its inaugural 2011 season in Rochester. The "curse" also does not extend to teams with players from Buffalo; in five years, four teams with Western New York players (Kevyn Adams, Todd Marchant, Brooks Orpik and Patrick Kane respectively) won the Stanley Cup between 2006 and 2010.[15][16]

C

Cardinals football curse

The Cardinals NFL franchise is allegedly suffering a curse[17] by the citizens of Pottsville, Pennsylvania for undeservedly claiming the 1925 NFL championship from the Pottsville Maroons who were stripped of their title by the NFL in one of the greatest controversies in sports history. The curse will supposedly only be lifted when the championship is returned to Pottsville and to the correct shade of red team. The Cardinals team holds the NFL record for the longest championship drought which ended in the 2008–2009 season by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. However, Arizona did lose Super Bowl XLIII to another Pennsylvania team: the Pittsburgh Steelers (whose founder Art Rooney supported Pottsville's claim to the title). The franchise also leads the NFL in the total number of losses (680 entering 2010).

Cleveland sports curses

Cleveland is particularly known for not winning any major sports championships since 1964.

Chicago baseball curses

Crucible Curse

In snooker, the "Crucible Curse" refers to the fact that no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended his title since the event was first held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 1977. Of the 15 first-time champions in this era, only two have even made the final the following year, and five were eliminated in their first match. The "curse" can even be seen in the pre-Crucible era—the three first-time champions between the start of the championship's "modern era" in 1969 and its move to the Crucible all lost in their respective semifinal matches the next year.

Curse of the Colonel

This curse was supposedly cast on the Hanshin Tigers by Colonel Harland Sanders (the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken) after fans of said team threw his statue into a canal while celebrating the Tigers' 1985 Japan Championship Series.

Curse of Coogan's Bluff

The San Francisco Giants had a curse that attempted to explain their failure to win the World Series until 2010, which was known as the Curse of Coogan's Bluff. It originated when the Giants left New York City for San Francisco at the end of the 1957 season. Fans at the Giants' home ballpark, the Polo Grounds (located at a site in Harlem called Coogan's Bluff), professed that the Giants would never win a World Series away from New York.

Since then, the Giants reached the World Series in 1962, 1989, and 2002,[18] and when they finally won in 2010, it was in Arlington, not San Francisco. Furthermore, two Series games in San Francisco had very long delays. In the '62 Series, Game 6 was postponed three days because of heavy rain and Game 3 of the '89 Series was put on hold for ten days due to a massive earthquake.

G

Curse of the Garabato

The Colombian football team América de Cali was under a curse since 1948. There was a discussion this year, in a meeting held by team owners, about moving América into the professional league. Benjamín Urrea, one of the owners, was opposed to the idea, so he said famously "Let's them do with the team what they want... but I swear to God they will never be champions".[19] He left the room, while the other owners laughed at him, and he never returned to the team. The team had to wait for 31 years to get its first professional title, in 1979. In 1980, journalist Rafael Medina and singer Antonio del Vivar performed an exorcising ritual on América's home field, to help the team to overcome the curse in the Copa Libertadores, the tournament that decides which team is the South American champion. After that performance, the team went to win five straight national titles, but, notwithstanding the seven more national championships that the team has obtained since then, some fans still believe the curse is alive, as América de Cali is famous for not having been able to win this South American title. The team has been four times the runner-up in Copa Libertadores. América de Cali is known as The Red Devils because the shield of the team sports a devil, with horns, tail and trident, which lead to some players masking their own shield with tape to overcome the curse, apparently to no avail. During Gabriel Ochoa twelve years tenure as coach the crest was removed from the uniform for personal religious reasons and, after returning to the uniforms, it was removed again in 1992. In 2010 the crest with the devil was revived and the team went into severe financial problems that moved the Colombian football authorities to ask the team to pay its debts if they wanted to play during the 2011 season.[20]

Curse of Gillette

Marketing experts have highlighted the "curse of Gillette", given the mishaps that happen to sports stars which are associated with the brand, most notably Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and David Beckham.[21][22]

H

Curse of the Honey Bears

George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears hired a cheerleading squad in 1977 known as the Honey Bears. When he died in 1983, he left the team to his daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey. Virginia McCaskey did not like the cheerleaders at all because she saw them as "sex objects", and tried to have them disbanded, but the Honey Bears had a contract through the 1985 season. The Bears lost only one regular season game that year and won Super Bowl XX, but the Honey Bears contract was not renewed. In spite of repeated attempts to bring back the Honey Bears, the idea has been killed by the organization, and the Bears have not won the Super Bowl since then.[23] The last time the Bears appeared in the Super Bowl was Super Bowl XLI. They were defeated by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 29-17.

J

Curse of Jeffrey Maier

This curse, originally coined in the book The Worst of Sports, is the supposed explanation of the Baltimore Orioles not making it to or winning a World Series since 1983. In Game One of the 1996 American League Championship Series, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees hit a fly ball to right field. Jeffrey Maier, a 12-year-old fan from Old Tappan, New Jersey, reached over the fence to retrieve the ball, and, instead of ruling it as fan interference, umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, allowing the Yankees to win the game, the AL pennant, and eventually, the World Series. While this home run put a curse on the Orioles, other events have contributed to the curse, including:

L

Curse of LaBonte

In the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom curling tournament, Robert LaBonte, the skip of American team, accidentally kicked the stone belonging to the Canadian team at the end of the match. This put the match into an extra end, and Canada won one more point to win the championship. Canada did not win another World Championship until 1980, and this was said that LaBonte put a "curse" on Canada.

M

Madden curse

Players who appear alone on the covers of the Madden NFL video games have tended to suffer setbacks or injuries immediately after appearing on the cover.

Curse of Muldoon

A curse allegedly placed on the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927 by head coach Pete Muldoon when he was fired, stating that they would never again finish in first place. The "curse" was first mentioned in print in 1943 by Toronto sportswriter Jim Coleman. They would not finish in first place in their division (1928–1937) or in the single-division NHL (after 1938) until 1967, the final season of the Original Six era, despite winning the Stanley Cup three times since Muldoon supposedly "cursed" the team. However, immediately after this, Coleman admitted that he had completely fabricated the "curse" to break a writer's block.

P

Par 3 curse

The Masters Tournament held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club begins with an informal par 3 competition. No winner of this has ever gone on to win the main tournament the same year.[25]

S

San Diego sports curse

Curse of Norm Smith

A curse on the Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League, used to explain why Melbourne has failed to win a premiership since it sacked Norm Smith in the middle of the 1965 season. Smith had coached fourteen years and won six premierships (including during the previous season), but his relationship with the club grew strained. He attacked the club in the media following his dismissal, and claimed they would not recover, which has remained true thus far.

Socceroos witch doctor curse

In a story told in Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters[26]: During a trip to play against Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1970 Mexico World Cup qualifiers in Mozambique, members of the Australian national soccer team (nicknamed the "Socceroos") including Warren consulted a witch doctor preceding their game. The witch doctor buried bones near the goal-posts and cursed the opposition, and Australia went on to beat Rhodesia 3–1 in the decider. However, the move backfired when the players could not come up with the £1000 demanded by the witch doctor as payment and he subsequently cursed the team. Subsequently, the Socceroos failed to beat Israel and did not qualify.

Whilst the curse is used as an explanation for failing to qualify for the World Cup for 32 years, including in the last match in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 qualifications, the curse is used in particular reference to the failure to qualify for the 1998 World Cup by drawing on aggregate against Iran, despite leading 2–0 in the second half of the final match of qualification.

The curse was supposedly lifted by John Safran during his 2004 TV series John Safran vs God. After reading the story in Warren's book, Safran travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to channel the original to reverse the curse. The following year, the Socceroos not only qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but reached the second round before being beaten by Italy in Kaiserslautern.

It is worth noting that their appearance in the 1974 FIFA World Cup came after the supposed curse had been placed. However, they failed to score a goal in any of their three opening round matches, and were eliminated.[27]

Sports Illustrated cover curse

Players who appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine have tended to coincidentally suffer setbacks or injuries, or lose important games, shortly after appearing on the cover.

T

Talladega Curse

NASCAR racetrack Talladega Superspeedway has been said to have been cursed by a Native American shaman; other stories claim that it was built on an Indian Burial Ground. The curse explains the high number of unusual occurrences, untimely deaths, and spectacular accidents that have plagued the track since its opening in 1969.

W

References

  1. ^ Jenkins, Richard (August 2007). "The Transformations of Biddy Early: From Local Reports of Magical Healing to Globalised New Age Fantasies". Folklore 118 (2): 167. doi:10.1080/00155870701337379. "Biddy's well-known "prophecy"—made, remarkably, forty years after her death—that Clare would never win an All-Ireland senior hurling title until every last member of the 1914 team had died" 
  2. ^ Wiley, Eddie (2 September 1995). "Clare prepare to confront the curse of Biddy Early". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/clare-prepare-to-confront-the-curse-of-biddy-early-1599160.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20. "The gist is that Biddy Early, denounced from the pulpit as a witch in the 1930s, but revered by many as a faith healer, wanted to travel with the Clare team to the provincial final of 1932. Whether from constraints of space or because of personal preferences, she was refused a lift. The resulting curse she put on that team was that every one of them would be dead before Clare would again win an All-Ireland final." 
  3. ^ "GAA: Clare". breakingnews.ie. 18 February 2008. http://www.breakingnews.ie/sport/gaa/extra/mhojeygbgbsn/. Retrieved 2009-05-20. "that old witch named Biddy Early, who put a curse on Clare hurlers, deciding that they would never win another All-Ireland hurling title until the whole team consisted of bachelors." 
  4. ^ "Sporting World". Connacht Tribune: p. 16. 24 October 1969. "Now comes a hint from no less a person than Mick Gill ... that the witch 'Biddy Early' has harnessed her evil powers to keep our men lost in the hurling wilderness." 
  5. ^ Cashman, Kevin (20 October 1991). "One forward could lift Wexford". Sunday Independent: p. 14L. "Biddy Early as a layer of jinxes on Galway was only in the ha'penny place" 
  6. ^ a b "Heady days for Galway hurling". Western People. 6 September 2001. http://archives.tcm.ie/westernpeople/2001/09/06/story9805.asp. Retrieved 2009-05-20. "It was so bad that many Galway people genuinely believed the fable that Galway hurling suffered from some curse or other. ... Dad ... often told us of the time that Galway led Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final of 1932 ... at half-time by a whopping thirteen points ... and yet managed to lose by five points." 
  7. ^ a b "Despite the blistering defeat — those Galway hurlers hold promise". Connacht Tribune: p. 9. 9 August 1974. "Galway's ... sensational 'Biddy Early' defeat by Clare at Limerick in 1932" 
  8. ^ Loughnane, Billy (11 September 1995). "Biddy's curse". The Irish Times: pp. 15. 
  9. ^ So close, so painful
  10. ^ a b c Warren, Ken (June 2, 2010). "Two cities that could use a CUP". Ottawa Citizen: p. B3. 
  11. ^ The lake effect
  12. ^ a b Buffalo Curse
  13. ^ Super Bowls That Were Never Played.
  14. ^ Miller, Jeffrey. "The Staley Swindle." Professional Football Researchers Association.
  15. ^ Adams to be named Sabres associate coach. The Buffalo News. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  16. ^ Benigni, Adam (2010-06-10). Blackhawks Win Stanley Cup; Buffalo Native Kane Scores Winning Goal. WGRZ. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  17. ^ The NFL's forgotten legend
  18. ^ Fost, Dan (April 2008). "Pick a curse, any curse". San Francisco online. http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/pick-curse-any-curse. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  19. ^ Murió el "autor" de la "maldición de Garabato" que le impedía al América ganar títulos, Caracol Radio, in Spanish, accessed on 7-Feb-2010, http://www.caracol.com.co/nota.aspx?id=529400
  20. ^ Canal Trans, in Spanish, accessed 7-Feb-2010, in Spanish http://www.canaltrans.com/deportes/futbol1/historias/001.html
  21. ^ Mesure, Susie (November 29, 2009). "Shaven but stirred: the Gillette curse". Tribune News (Tribune.ie). http://www.tribune.ie/news/international/article/2009/nov/29/shaven-but-stirred-the-gillette-curse/. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  22. ^ Mesure, Susie (2009-11-29). "Henry, Woods, Federer: The curse of Gillette". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/advertising/henry-woods-federer-the-curse-of-gillette-1830663.html. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  23. ^ http://www.footballbabble.com/football/nfl/chicago-bears/cheerleaders/
  24. ^ Lamovsky, Jesse; Rossetti, Matthew; DeMarco, Charlie (2007). The Worst of Sports. New York: Ballantine Books. 
  25. ^ "The curse of the Masters Par-3 tournament". http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/yb/143455309&usg=AFQjCNEoExuynpT4ixp4eHMsXDf-Z4eLPg. 
  26. ^ Sygall, David (November 20, 2005). "Safran helps lift curse of the Socceroos". The Age (theage.com.au). http://www.theage.com.au/news/soccer/safran-helps-lift-curse-of-the-socceroos/2005/11/19/1132017027452.html. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  27. ^ Sygall, David (November 20, 2005). "Socceroos owe it all to one man - and it isn't Hiddink". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/news/football/socceroos-owe-it-all-to-one-man--and-it-isnt-hiddink/2005/11/19/1132017026017.html. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 

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