8 Crazy Sports Traditions That Got Out of Control
Like countries or families, sports are filled with traditions unique to their history that define what it means to be a part of a team's legacy. Some teams have no traditions, so their tradition is not showing up to games. But these eight traditions were created by teams and fans that truly care, some to the point where they stopped giving any kind of shit about possibly killing a bunch of people with their traditions.
At most colleges, the oncoming threat of finals turns students into a doomsday cult trying to squeeze in one last drunken orgy before the world ends. Meanwhile, students of Taylor University in Indiana, an Evangelical Christian college, listen to readings of Christmas stories and make gingerbread houses the week before fall finals. It's pretty wild, if you're in a retirement home. But on the Friday before finals, students collectively blow their load during one of their Division III basketball team's games. They call it "Silent Night," because "Collective Load Blow" isn't very Christian.
"Our prayer sessions can get pretty crazy sometimes."
When the ball tips off, a creepy silence fills the gym. The fans in the packed stands look on in dead silence. You'd think Taylor was a school for mutes. The only things you hear come from players shouting at each other, the squeak of their sneakers on the court, and the dribble of the ball. The home crowd remains absolutely silent ... until Taylor scores their 10th point. Then this happens:
The place goes bonkers. Everyone leaps to their feet, and students storm the court like their Division III team just won a national title. Music blares. Everyone chants and claps and jumps. It's a collective orgasm, a release of pent-up frustration and stress.
Playoff Beards in the NHL
The 1980 New York Islanders unlocked the secret ingredient needed to take a team from "perennial runner-up" to "Suck it, I'm a champion": beards.
Some of the players grew the wooly face thickets at the start of the playoffs, and the rest of the team followed. They won the Stanley Cup that year. So they grew playoff beards for the next three seasons in a row and won the Stanley Cup each year. Their playoff strategy was facial hair, and they assumed the rest would work itself out from there.
"See, told you playoff Brazilian waxes were not the way to go."
Athletes are superstitious, so when a new superstition comes along that clearly works, every other team and player is going to adopt it. Today, the playoff beard is a tradition for the entire sport. This has led to some of the most frighteningly manly facial hair you'll ever see. Beards that will carve a casket out of a tree and bury you in it:
Beards that confuse bears and make them think you're their cousin Larry:
Beards that make holding a gigantic trophy look like a mid-orgasm Viking at the post-invasion Viking orgy:
It's not just hockey anymore. The 2012-2013 Boston Red Sox won the World Series, possibly due in part to teammates growing vicious beards that could do all the fighting in a bar fight as the beard's owner sits back and chugs a Bud.
The beard itself doesn't have as much to do with winning as the camaraderie of a whole team sporting beards does, but damn -- I guess making the other team think you're a hillbilly militia doesn't hurt.
West Virginia University Basically Sets Their Town on Fire Because Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title in 2000, 2009, and 2010, and all three of those recent championships were commemorated by Lakers fans with mass riots that tore the city apart. Of course, the media made a big deal about it. That tradition isn't in this article, because post-game riots are a weekly occurrence for students at West Virginia University, who set their town ablaze and occasionally toss in a riot for good measure after pretty much every football and basketball game, with a particular emphasis on setting couches on fire in the middle of the street.
"Now to sleep this off- shit, that was my bed, too."
If there isn't a couch handy, WVU students settle for flipping cars:
Some 1,799 street fires and 633 dumpster fires have been set by WVU students in Morgantown, West Virginia, in the past 15 years. That's 2,432 fires started, and all because sports happened. Win or lose -- doesn't matter. Just as laughter is an involuntary response to seeing something funny, setting couches and dumpsters on fire is a WVU student's involuntary response to hearing that sports is happening somewhere, and their school's team may be involved somehow.
Michigan Hockey Fans Get Really Mean After Their Team Scores a Goal
Usually, chants are used to cattle prod the home crowd into pretending they give a shit and remind the home team that the crowd hasn't passed out from a gas leak. The chants shouted by fans of University of Michigan hockey are a bit different: They exist solely to drive the visiting team into therapy. So when Michigan scores a goal, fans will point to the opposing goalie and shout "Sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve! It's all your fault! It's all your fault! It's all your fault! It's all your fault!"
They turn into a haunting stress nightmare and rain a reminder of failure upon the goalie like a Megazord of verbally abusive parents.
If the crowd hears a phone ring in the press box of their tiny arena, they'll chant, "Hey, [opposing goalie's name]! It's your mom! She says, 'You suck!'"
Speaking of parents, when a visiting team's parents stand up and cheer after a goal, Wolverines fans shout "Ugly parents!" And if the opposing goalie takes off his helmet at any point, the crowd chants "Ugly goalie!" When the helmet goes back on, they cheer.
To further drive the goalie to suicide, they do their "Sieve!" chant and follow it with "You're not a sieve, you're a funnel! You're not a funnel, you're a vacuum! You're not a vacuum, you're a black hole! You're not a black hole, you just suck! You just suck! You just suck! You just suck!"
And because Wolverines fans are apparently a bunch of mean assholes, as an opposing player enters the penalty box, he's greeted with "See ya! Chump, dick, wuss, douchebag, asshole, prick, cheater, bitch, whore!"
They're like children who just learned curse words and don't know what they mean but know that they make people cry, and that's good enough for them.
Related: 5 Sports Fans Who Ruined Sports
All Blacks Rugby Team Doing Haka
Before the start of a game, teams will huddle and get pumped by shouting boilerplate motivational slogans to remind themselves that they'll stop getting paychecks if they don't win. Where most pump-up chants fail is in their lack of absurd claims about the important role the team plays in the day-to-day functions of our solar system. The pregame chant performed by the New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks (it's not a racial thing) fills that gap.
"Either we win, or none of us will be able to pay child support for our broods of illegitimate kids."
Before each game, they perform a war cry called the Haka, originally created by a group of early Polynesian settlers of New Zealand called the Maori who, like all great warriors, created a song and dance number to prove how badass they were. This is what teams have to watch before playing the All Blacks:
Here are the translated lyrics:
'Tis death! 'tis death! (or: I may die) 'Tis life! 'tis life! (or: I may live)
'Tis death! 'tis death! 'Tis life! 'tis life!
This is the hairy man
Who brought the sun and caused it to shine
A step upward, another step upward!
A step upward, another ... the sun shines!
It must be hard for coaches to give the "Now go out there and have fun" speech after a bunch of burly dudes stand in rows, squat their legs, slap themselves, and then scream about death and how they are the reason the sun shines before a game.
Wisconsin's "Jump Around"
If you want to experience a mosh pit but don't feel like getting kicked in the face by a suburban white kid whose body is ferociously fighting off his Paxil dosage, then you are rewarded the gloriousness of seeing the mosh pit from the stands. It's beautiful -- a violent ocean of human bodies pulsating in unison with a rhythm that isn't tidal, it's supernatural, like Poseidon is about to break from beneath the surface of the human-ocean wearing a Slayer T-shirt.
The eye of the Paxil hurricane.
If you're in Wisconsin and Slayer is nowhere to be found but you still want to see a writhing mass of humanity attempt to shake a structure to the ground, go to a University of Wisconsin Badgers football game. Between the third and fourth quarters, the iconic opening of House of Pain's "Jump Around" blares from the stadium speakers. For a moment, there's a stillness in the crowd. And then ... the beat drops. The fans in Camp Randall Stadium do exactly as the song instructs -- they jump. All 80,000 of them.
Even visiting teams take part:
The vibrations made by 80,000 people jumping at the same time are so powerful that, in 2003, University of Wisconsin officials feared the jumping was going to rattle the stadium to the ground, so they suspended the tradition. It was reinstated after students demanded that they be afforded the opportunity to nearly kill 80,000 people every Sunday.
Related: Don't Eat Seasonal 'Cannibal Sandwich' With Raw Ground Beef, Warns Wisconsin Dept. of Health
People Throwing Shit on the Ice at Hockey Games
Hockey isn't very popular in America, which is why it's basically the sports version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has a small yet extremely devoted cult following made up of people who desperately try to be a part of the action. So when fans aren't hurling obscenities at players like they do in Michigan, they're hurling random shit onto the ice.
You've heard of a hat trick, right? It's when a player scores three goals in one game. When it happens, fans will show a complete disregard for the money they've spent on the hat they wore to the game by tossing it onto the ice. It's not many; usually a few hats. But from here, things escalate wildly.
Once a year, a minor league team called the Calgary Hitmen hold a charity teddy bear toss. When the Hitmen score their first goal of the game, the crowd of 17,000-plus throw around 26,000 teddy bears onto the ice.
In 1952, two brothers from Detroit tossed a dead octopus onto the ice before the Detroit Red Wings started their playoff run. Back then, a team only needed to win a total of eight games in the playoffs to be Stanley Cup champions. Eight wins, eight tentacles -- the logic is impeccable. Stop signs are red and have eight sides -- they could have thrown a stop sign. Nope. Octopus. Ever since then, fans have been tossing real octopuses onto the ice at Red Wings games. The guy who cleans it up whirls them around his head, because we've so dominated the octopus that we use their corpses as rally towels.
This also counts as a visual representation of Detroit's economy.
In the 1995-1996 NHL season, Florida Panther Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room with his hockey stick and then scored two goals later that night. Word got out, and soon Panther fans started throwing hundreds of plastic (sometimes real) rats onto the ice. By the time the Panthers were in the finals, every goal they scored was followed by this:
The NHL eventually starting penalizing teams whose fans threw stuff on the ice, because finding new and exciting ways to ruin fun is always the NHL's number one off-season priority.
Players Get to Spend a Day With the Stanley Cup
Each member of a Stanley Cup champion team gets to spend about a day with the cup during the off-season. Most do basic celebratory stuff, like drink champagne out of it. Others, like six-time Stanley Cup champ Mark Messier, take it to a strip club and let a stripper dance on it. A year later, he won it again and dented the cup during another wild celebration. He had the dent fixed at an auto-repair shop.
"While you were out, we fixed your trophy's transmission and added spinning rims. $7,000, please!"
There's a long tradition of players doing weird stuff with one of the oldest, most prized trophies in sports. That trophy has seen some shit, man.
In 1905, when the trophy was still mostly just a bowl, the Ottawa Senators nearly lost it when a teammate tried to drunkenly dropkick it across a frozen river.
It took weeks to find the cup after the 1906 Montreal Wanderers left it in a photo studio after a shoot. The photographer's mom was using it as a flower pot.
Here's a heartwarming tale: In 1925, the Victoria Cougars won the cup. Lynn and Muzz Patrick, the sons of the Cougars head coach, found the cup in their basement, so they used a nail to scratch their names onto it. In 1940, now all grown up, the brothers won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers and had their names properly etched onto its chalice.
And here's where that story goes awry: Lynn and Muzz and the rest of the Rangers took turns pissing on the cup. They probably had their reasons. Don't judge.
The Stanley Cup has been dropped into and fished out of swimming pools. It has been dropped into a bonfire, used to baptize babies, and brought into showers so players could bathe with it. Dogs have eaten out of it. One guy slept with it and probably rubbed his junk all over it.
And so did Hayden Panettiere.
By 2008, all pretenses of respect for the cup were dropped when Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings sat his baby son in it and the kid shit all over it. Kris drank from it later that day.
Like I said -- that trophy has seen some shit, man.