7 strangest pregame rituals of Chicago superfans

Wondering how Chicago superfans help their team get the win? Check out these pregame rituals. #jackhoney

March might have just come to a close, but the hysteria surrounding college basketball is finally reaching its peak. With such high stakes, game results might make or break your entire week. So how can you guarantee your team wins?

Two words: pregame ritual.

For decades, sports fans of all types have used this tactic, hoping to get the edge and clinch the win. Whether it's tossing a cane through a goal post before each game, or even burning a stuffed replica of the opponent's mascot followed by a mock funeral, the pregame ritual seems to have a magical power over some fans.

If you're looking for that new lucky charm, or just some added fun, we've rounded up Chicago's best basketball pregame rituals. Straight from the streets of Chicago, here are 7 pregame rituals that are crazy enough they just might work for you.

1. Super Socks

We all know the superstar athlete who won't take off his lucky socks, even if those salty, sweat-crusted things are as stiff as icicles on a cold Chicago day. But for one Chicago fan, socks, or the lack of them, are essential to his pregame ritual.

"I don't allow my son to wear his (team) socks," Jeff Hackborn says, "because whenever he wears his socks to a game, they lose."

Though this child protégé of a superfan might wear those blankie-like socks the entire day, before the tipoff he has to make sure they're out of sight. Talk about taking one for the team.

2. Big Game Freeze

Before a vigorous game of pickup basketball, some players apply a mentholated pain-relieving gel, hoping to prevent sore muscles. But here's a new way to use that menthol gel that you may not have heard before.

"I wear a full headband, jersey, shorts, and I put on Biofreeze, like I'm going to play in the game," Chicagoan Louis Giovannelli says. "Then I watch (my team), and typically they lose, which stinks, but I watch the games and I drip sweat. It's great!"

So perhaps slathering on some analgesic may be more soothing and entertaining than it is lucky.

3. Dream Dribbling

Some rituals start the night before the game. Fans have been known to tuck themselves into bed with a basketball, clinging to its leathery canvas as if already grasping tomorrow's win.

Another nighttime ritual: One professional athlete and some of his fans wear game-day regulation shorts of the opposing team to bed.

4. Shower Power

Do you drink while you watch or watch while you drink? No matter which, Chicago local Joseph Benavente swears that a beer shower before the game gives his team the edge. For those who don't know, a beer shower is simply drinking a brewski while taking a shower.

Diehard fans could have some fun trying their luck with other beverages — maybe a whiskey sour shower?

5. Dress for Success

Many fans prepare for a game by donning their team's logo or colors. When local Claire Diebold is attending a game, she says she is "sure to look the part." She fears anything less could spell disaster, and thinks wearing team colors transmits strong team spirit to her heroes.

6. Eat, Drink, Be Merry

If the players aren't hydrating and carb loading, they can't perform at their best. Some fans believe the same is true for them.

Chicagoan Baker Leyman plans his game time meals as precisely as a player practices for his free throws. "I always get a big plate of food that's made a solid 10 minutes before any game starts so that I don't have to get up and miss any of the game," Leyman says. "Solid preparation." Adequate sustenance allows superfans to cheer heartily and send that strength into the universe.

Alongside a game-winning meal, there is always a game-winning drink. If that drink is whiskey, check out these recipes for pregame dishes, made better with honey whiskey.

7. Pregame Benchmob

If you consider yourself the "sixth man," what pregame antics can you do to ensure your team's victory?

"Before the games, I have to make sure I and three to five friends are lined up on the couch, because it gets me into the mindset that we're the bench mob who doesn't get to play, but will still get super rowdy," local Jack Ford says.

While these rituals might seem silly, eccentric or overdramatic, more than anything they're done for the love of the game.

"I've played my entire life," Ford says, "and whether it's a Cinderella story, buzzer beaters or the culmination of a great team getting hot, the tournament is one of the most exciting things to watch."


—Graham Gettel, Tribune Content Solutions

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