In the October issue of Slice, Lauren Hammack chronicles some colorful superstitions practiced by metro fans – and even a couple from Texas – to ensure their team of choice’s victory. Mine’s not particularly complicated or laborious, but it can be trying sometimes…
I mentioned in my last post that I’m a fairly dedicated OU football fan, but you wouldn’t know it by my whereabouts on autumn Saturdays – wherever I am, it’s not at the game. In fact, I haven’t set foot in Memorial Stadium in over 16 years now, and not for lack of desire; for the common good.
#1: September 19, 1992
My first trip to a non-high school football game (age: 14). Our whole family drove four hours to Norman, sat waaaaaay in the back of the stands and used binoculars to watch the #14-ranked Sooners take a 10-0 lead into the 4th quarter against unranked USC… and then give up twenty consecutive points, of which the lowlight was Cale Gundy suddenly remembering everything he’d been taught in preschool about sharing and saying “No, no, it would be selfish of me to keep this ball just for my team. Here, you play with it for a while. Maybe back there in that end zone.” It was a grungy, scuzzy, damp day; the Trojan band played their stupid fight song after seemingly every snap; they refused to burst into flames despite my utmost pyrokinetic efforts… basically the only high point of the whole day was getting to pet Boomer and Sooner before the game; it was all downhill from there.
Final Score: USC 20, OU 10 | Lifetime Record: 0-1
#2: October 16, 1993
Richard – who on my T-800-style heads-up display would be listed as “Percussion section leader,” “High school senior” and then “Caucasian male” before “Friend(?)” – said his dad had an extra ticket, and I was all “Woo, yeah, I love football!” Which resulted in a nearly silent four-hour ride to Norman with someone I really didn’t know well and two people I’d never met (Dr. Richard’s Dad and the much-younger (second) Mrs. Dr. Richard’s Dad). We sat waaaaay in the back of the stands and did not use binoculars (I was afraid the dour and frosty Dr. Richard’s Dad would think me an even less worthy person than he already seemed to) to watch the #9-ranked Sooners do absolutely nothing against Colorado – the Buffs were up 20-3 at halftime and, led by future Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam, knocked out over 300(!) yards on the ground before the afternoon was finally over. Just a long, slow, grinding, inexorable hammering of a game in an atmosphere that was strained from the get-go and got progressively bleaker and angrier; I think I went to the bathroom like four times just to get away from my erstwhile companions for a minute, and in so doing missed the Sooner Schooner actually falling over when trying to celebrate our sad little field goal. Basically the only high point of the whole day was that the poisonously unpleasant car trips gave me plenty of time to finish reading 1984. Hooray?
Final Score: Colorado 27, OU 10 | Lifetime Record: 0-2
#3: September 28, 1996
I was a freshman at OU, and invited to attend the game and walk onto the field with all the other incoming National Merit Scholars so we could wave and the crowd could say “Them am smarts! This good school… is! Yay!” before going back to caring about football. I thought it sounded great – sure, I’d had bad luck before, but the third time was the charm, and I had an ace in the hole: our opponent was Tulsa. Tulsa. It was in the bag, right? Their QB was even on the DL with an esploded shoulder or something! So I took a five-minute walk from the dorms and sat waaaaay up front in the student section and it could have been a very nice day indeed… except that the reason the 68,000+ people were actually there was to watch a football game, and Brother, OU was godawful. I saw us lose a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. I saw us fumble what would have been a score away into a touchback. I saw OU pin Tulsa on their own 1-yard line, and then give up an I-swear-to-God 99-yard touchdown pass. The University of Oklahoma trailed – trailed – Tulsa – Tulsa – 24-7 at halftime. I stumbled out onto the field with my brethren and the crowd said “Look at those little twerps. Think they’re so smart. Everything’s the worst.” I didn’t even stay for the second half; I walked away and didn’t look back, and the only high point of the whole day was nothing. Everything was the worst.
Final Score: Tulsa (Tulsa!) 31, OU 24 | Lifetime Record: 0-3
And that’s my superstition: however high the stakes, sweet the seats, desirable the company or guaranteed cream-puffy the opponent, I won’t go back. As Sir Ian Fleming once wrote, “Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence. The third time is a sign to stay the hell home, Steve! Blimey!”
STEVE GILL is unusually tall, has a B.A. in Letters and a minor in Classics from OU, drinks a great deal of coffee and openly delights in writing, editing and catching the occasional typo for Slice – especially since his dream career (millionaire layabout in a P.G. Wodehouse novel) is notoriously difficult to break into. He's probably trying to think of a joke about pirates right now.