Sports Traditions Through the Ages

Catalina Rao, Staff Writer

For as long as sports culture has existed there have been fan traditions; common practices that every fan in every city knows.  They act as a way to relate to fellow sport fanatics and bring the sports community together in general.

Right now, in Philadelphia, the Sixers have started a new trend among their fans.  The movement is led by the Sixers rookie Ben Simmons and it is called Raise The Cat.  Halfway through the season, Simmons noticed an unusual fan post of a man holding his cat over his head in a celebration of a Sixers win.  Intrigued by the idea Simmons took to twitter, posting a picture of himself holding his two cats and adding the hashtag Raise The Cat.  Since then the trend has exploded among fans and every time the Sixers win a game every fan in Philly raises their cat.

Another sports phenomenon is the Legend of the Octopus.  Originating in Detroit the Legend of the Octopus began in 1952 when the Red Wings needed to win eight games in order to clinch the Stanley Cup.  To motivate the team two brothers threw a dead store-bought octopus onto the rink during a game, the creatures eight arms representing the eight games the Red Wings needed to win.  The team did eventually go on to win the prestigious cup and so the tradition was cemented into the team’s history.   From then on other teams in the country began to follow suit.  For instance, the Nashville Predators began throwing catfish onto the rink during games as a good luck charm to the players.  There was also an incident locally when a fan threw a three-foot leopard shark at the rink during a San Jose Sharks game at the then HP Pavilion.  The event was dubbed as a response to the Red Wings octopus tradition.

Hockey continues its reputation for odd sports traditions with the “Hat Trick”.  At almost any hockey game if a player scores three goals in a game the fans in the arena throw their hats onto the ice as a form of celebration.  Often times as a way to find a home for the excessive number of hats, the player who scores the hat trick donates them to charity.  Traditions like these are the ones that bring people from all over together because the tradition is not specific to any one team or city or sport even.  The tradition also transcends to soccer and even cricket as a universal celebration of achievement.

Sports traditions are a way for fans to come together in honor of a common hobby. Plus, it gives the players a platform to interact and connect with their fans as Ben Simmons has with the Philadelphia fan base.  These customs also often have interesting backstories that can be passed down through generations.  Outside a sports arena two people might be polar opposites but inside the stadium everyone has something in common-the love of the team, the city, and the traditions that come with it.