As Aussies, we love our sport: Cricket, footy, tennis, soccer, netball – you name it. But while pre-game Anthems and mid-game entertainment might be more than ordinary, these sports rituals from around the world are much crazier and way more intense!
USA – Octopus Throwing
In the 1950s, winning an ice hockey Stanley Cup meant needing to win 8 individual games throughout the season. Some of Detroit’s more insane fans figured that throwing an 8 armed creature onto the ice would bring them luck, and have been doing so ever since. Despite the practice now being banned, fans still occasionally get an octopus or two past security and onto the ice.
Spain – Garlic Protection
Northern Spain is famous for its myths and superstitions, and the locals here take their rituals pretty seriously. In order to keep evil spirits at bay, the local football team, Deportivo de La Coruña, regularly sprinkles garlic around the edge of the field before the start of each game. It seems to be working, as no evil spirits have shown up here in years!
New Zealand – The Haka
Sport is all about having fun and getting some exercise, right? Tell that to New Zealand’s rugby team, whose pre-game ritual is a traditional Maori war dance! The Haka involves an intimidating mix of chanting, stomping and slapping and has been performed before all All Blacks games since 1905.
Japan – Fight Songs
Made famous by the Hanshin Tigers, fight songs are sung by Japanese baseball fans as a way to pump up their team. Popular players are often given their own fight song as a sign of respect, and the song is sung each time they come out to pitch or bat. That’s a lot of bloody lyrics to memorise!
North America – Playoff Beards
This hairy ice hockey tradition was started in the 1980s by the New York Rangers and means that players abstain from shaving for the entire playoffs. Considering that playoffs can last up to 6 weeks, teams who make it all the way to the final often look pretty beastly!
France/Worldwide – Jersey Swapping
Jersey swapping started in 1931 following a football game between France and England. France won in a huge upset and asked their opponents to swap jerseys to commemorate their achievement. Jersey swapping has since spread to countless other sporting codes and is seen as a sign of respect.
Australia – Pre-Game Face Slapping
There’s nothing like a good slap in the face to get you all fired up, at least according Tommy Raudonikis. During his time with the NRL Magpies in the 1970’s, Raudonikis led face slapping sessions before each game, in which players would line up and slap each other silly! Well done, lads.
England – Singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Known for their drinking, fighting and fanaticism, British football/soccer fans are also known for their lyrical chants, especially those of the Liverpool Football Club. Since 1963, Liverpool fans have sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before the start of every game, which was once the number 1 hit by Liverpool’s own Jerry and the Pacemakers.