I don’t believe in curses in sports, as a rule. The Boston Red Sox were just bad for a long time, okay? Forget Babe Ruth and Broadway shows and all of that folderol. They were bad, then they weren’t, then there was Chicken Gate.
But I’m not proud to admit that I am superstitious when it comes to TV announcers. I know they can’t jinx a player or a team with their words — but then again, can they? And while I know that my presence on the other side of a television screen has no affect on my favorite teams — what if it does?
Am I the only one who entertains these dark thoughts? Yes? Oh.
But you know what I’m talking about. It’s really noticeable in basketball — especially come March, when reams of statistics have been produced for the NCAA tournament. An announcer will say, “Joe Smith has made his last 3,472 free throws! No one has ever made that many free throws! He just needs one more free throw to become the all-time leader in free throws! Yes sir, we may never see such a moment again in the history of all sports!”
And Joe Smith clanks it off the rim.
It happened last Sunday to Tom Brady. Weren’t you sure, when the CBS announcers mentioned his long streak without an interception — I missed the number; it was 200 or 2,000 or something — that he was destined to throw one, and soon? It didn’t happen on the next play, but pretty close. The minute the graphic went on the screen, I told the cats, “It’s coming. Wait for it.” They nodded sagely.
Of course, some players seem immune to this phenomenon. If Tim Tebow were subject to the same laws of nature that the rest of the league (and all of sports) seems to be, he would have exploded from all the vitriol, bile and criticism that’s been coming his way this season — even from his own front office — as he has won seven of eight starts.
I’d like to conduct a scientific experiment in which announcers from all the networks took turns saying things like, “He hasn’t fumbled the ball all afternoon!” or “The one thing you don’t want to see here is an interception!” every time he takes a snap, for an entire game. Could he withstand all the bad vibe-age? I’m guessing he’d fumble and throw interceptions — and still win the game. Let’s face it, this guy is not a Muggle.
The worst — some might say the craziest — affliction, for me, is the one regarding my power to make “my” team win or lose based on whether or not I tune in. It happened last Saturday, when Kansas played the Sullinger-less Buckeyes. I was out and the game had started by the time I got home. Kansas had built a nice lead by the time I turned on the game — and Ohio State promptly began whacking into it. Off goes the TV. Turn it on, check the score, we’re back up by 10 . . . and the lead dwindles to five. Off goes the TV. And so on. It’s exhausting, plus the cats get angry because they don’t share my hang-ups, and they’d like to watch the entire game. So I have to DVR it and play it for them after I go to bed. And I can’t tell them the score in advance.
Now I’m facing two weeks at my parents, spending time in the basement with my dad, watching TV. Every Kansas game will be on — and I have no control over the remote. I must be strong. So must the cats. They’ll have to wait two weeks to see any sports at all. Unless they master the remote before I get back.