Pregame rituals rally up athletes, fans

Jake Pizzi and Isabella Thomas

From hugging and high-fiving, to spraying chocolate axe cologne on each other, many teams have different rituals that take place before each game. Throughout time, these strange events have become part of the team’s identity and a necessity before taking to the court or field.

The culture of Palm Beach Central revolves around sports, so it is not uncommon to have tight-knit teams coming up with rituals. Each team has a different way of preparing for their games, whether it is physically, emotionally, or mentally. All types of preparation share one common goal: get the athletes hyped up for the game.

At Palm Beach Central, the boys lacrosse team is one of the first to come to mind when thinking of pre game rituals. Following the playing of the National Anthem, the boys spray chocolate axe cologne all over each other’s jerseys. Afterwards, they have a pep talk to get excited, and then run out on the field in hopes to dominate their opponent. The exact reason behind the cologne is unknown to the common bystander, but within the team it bonds the players and focuses their sights on victory.

“Pregame rituals are what we do as a team before the game,” told junior Ryan Rundle. “The lacrosse team ritual is to spray chocolate cologne on our jerseys to start hyping the boys up for our game. It is weird to some people, but it’s fun for us.”

The rituals of teams vary even within our school, some being light hearted and silly, while others are more serious and mentally involved.

“The football team prays together before our pregame meal and eats together in the cafeteria,” revealed junior Ben Moss. “Next, we get dressed in the locker room and then warm up. We have a certain way we warm up for the games, and certain position groups go out to warm up first. Then we listen to music in the locker room to have a speech by the coaches to get locked in mentally.”

Aside from players, fans also have beloved traditions that they do every game day to get themselves prepared to cheer on their team.

Even colleges and universities have sacred rituals to rally up their stadiums. In particular, Florida State University’s ritual has honored the Seminole tribe since 1978. Upwards to 82,000 fans fill Doak Campbell Stadium anxiously awaiting for the chief of the Seminole Tribe, Chief Osceola.

At the opening of each game Osceola rides on a stunning Appaloosa horse named Renegade, and charges across the football field with an eight foot spear. The ritual is eccentric and landed the FSU Seminoles ESPN SportsNation the “best NCAA Football Tradition in the country” in 2011.

Pregame rituals are a major part of high school and college sports, but also in worldwide sports. The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team first performed a haka dance in 1888. The haka is a Maori war dance to channel the expression vitality and identity. The dance was used alongside weapons to frighten and intimidate enemies by demonstrating strength and fierceness; now, weapons are not used, but the effect is the same.

Besides the movements, a player will chant a traditional poem or song too. The All Blacks have used the same chant from 1888 to 2006; the chant changed in 2006, and has been standing ever since:

“Let me go back to my first gasp of breath

Let my life force return to the earth

It is New Zealand that thunders now

And it is my time!

It is my moment!

The passion ignites!

This defines us as the All Blacks

And it is my time!

It is my moment!

The anticipation explodes!

Feel the power

Our dominance rises

Our supremacy emerges

To be placed on high

Silver fern!

All Blacks!

Silver fern!

All Blacks!”

Whether a ritual surrounding a team is tied to their heritage and history or not, it is always a great way to build enthusiasm before a big game and it’s a factor that plays into making sports beloved to everyone everywhere.