Sports curses

So… Wednesday night we saw the lifting of the “Curse of Billy Penn”, with the Phildelphia win in the world series. For those unfamiliar, it was a supposed agreement that no building should be built higher then the statue of William Penn that sits atop City Hall in Philadelphia. Not long after the Sixers won the championship in 1983…a building was constructed that topped Billy. Since then, Philly had not had a championship in a major sport. This of course led to the absurd notion that good old Billy had put a curse upon us.

Well…that is no more…but it had me wondering. Baseball is a really superstitious sport…and I’m aware that there are other “curses” in the sport…like the Bambino, but are there curses or other superstious rituals or ideas in other sports? Is this a purely American thing or are there examples in international sports, like football (soccer)? Are there still unbroken “curses” out there dogging loyal fans and dashing the hopes of cities around the world?

For the record – the curse wasn’t broken till this fall, when the new tallest building in center city, the Comcast Center, was topped with a miniature of the City Hall statue. Cite.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

There’s at least one book devoted solely to baseball’s curses and other haunting phenomena. I’ve selected the page which mentions the curse supposedly placed on the Cleveland Indians when they fired manager Bobby Bragan in 1958. The Tribe’s only two World Series championships came in 1920 and '48.

The curse of the Billy Goat -

Some think the Dallas Cowboys are cursed, jinxed, unlucky, or whatever when they wear their blue jerseys.

The Cowboys’ home jerseys are white. Most NFL teams wear dark jerseys at home, and, accordingly, most teams wear white only on the road. Since half of a team’s games are at home and half on the road each year, most teams have a pretty even split between wearing white and dark jerseys over the course of a season.

Dallas wears white not only at home, but white most of the time on the road as well. They only wear their “blues” when they come up against another one of the few teams that wears white at home.

Some teams have been known to intentionally pick white at home when the Cowboys come to town, even though they don’t normally wear white at home, just to force Dallas to wear blue, in hopes of “getting in the Cowboys’ heads” or invoking the “blue jersey curse.”

A post of mine C&P’ed from a thread about 4 years ago:

The Hanshin Tigers baseball team (based in Osaka) is said to be under the “Curse of the Colonel”. After they won the Japan Series in 1985, there was a huge drunken celebration in the streets of Osaka. One by one, people were picked out of the crowd who most closely resembled members of the team and encouraged to jump from one of the city bridges into the Dotonbori River (something the city government has since tried to discourage, considering that river has almost solidified from the pollution in it). Anyway, there was noone in the crowd available who resembled the Tiger’s token gaijin, Randy Bass, so one enterprising reveller grabbed the concrete statue of Colonel Sanders from in front of a nearby KFC, and pitched it into the inky depths. Since then, the Tigers remained in the cellar, and it was rumored that they’ll stay there (although they won the league championship in 2003) until the statue is recovered and returned. The river was dredged in an attempt to find it, but so far nothing has turned up.

More info from Wiki. The Tigers have still not won the Japan Series.

In Australian Rugby League, the big game of the year, the championship game, is called the Grand Final.

In 1975, one of the greatest players ever, Graeme Langlands, was about to play for the St. George Dragons in the Grand Final. He had some pain from an injury, so before the game they gave him a pain-killing injection. Something went wrong with the injection, and it completely deadened the nerves in his leg, making him a virtual cripple during the game. He had probably the worst game of his career, and his team lost 38-0.

During the game, Langlands wore white rugby boots supplied by a sponsor. This made him stand out from all the other players, who wore traditional black boots.

For the better part of three decades after that game, white boots were considered cursed, and basically no professional rugby league player in Australia would wear them. I believe that’s begun to change over the past 5 years; i watched some games when i visited Sydney this year, and saw a few players wearing white footwear on the field.


Not quite a curse, but in cricket there are some run totals that are considered unlucky. For the English team, it’s 111 (or multiples thereof), and is, i believe, referred to as a Nelson.

For Australia, it’s 87, based on the fact that 87 is 13 short of 100.