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Superstitions and Rituals in Sports and Baking
Bud Light Commercial
If you have watched national television in the US in this past year, it is likely that you have seen the Bud Light commercial about superstitions when it comes to sports. My favorite part is that they use Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" in the background.
Anyway, the premise of the commercial is that Bud Light should be a part of your game-time ritual and it's only superstitious if it doesn't work. It's the same in baking. You become so focused on being exact that the process becomes a ritual and when the ritual doesn't always work it becomes a superstition.
Since it is getting even closer to NBA Playoffs and March Madness is going on I am bound to see more and more rituals popping up.
For example, some people make bird like noises when the opposing team is shooting free throws. If it works, then it works, but if it doesn't... Well, they're in Dallas so you have to angle your head in that direction or make it louder to travel farther. That is why it did not work. It is not because they can't hear you through the television, not at all. Free throws for the opposing team are really vocal events, because there are other people that yell "GET OUTTA THERE!" So, you have bird noises and yelling going on at the same time. If it works, you have won the game. If it doesn't you will continue to tweek it until it "works" every time.
Clothing also must be considered when watching sports. I once wore purple when the Thunder played the Lakers... I was immediately ridiculed and then given something else to wear. And during the play offs if it works it sticks. No washing, no switching. Gross, but true.
These things are universal when it comes to sports, but perhaps people haven't paid as much attention to the rituals and superstitions that come with other things, like baking.
Working at a bakery has not only opened my eyes to math, but to the wonderful world of superstition and ritual on days when the Thunder doesn't play.
My first job at the bakery was to learn how to make a chocolate ganache frosting, because no one else likes to do it. It is temperamental, requires a lot of stirring/whisking and can separate on a dime. So, of course, I was the one that was suppose to conquer it. And I sort of did, for a little while, until I started over thinking and over ritualizing the frosting.
I began seeing patterns and decided that if I didn't do it the exact same way every time then it would be a complete failure. I did it the same way, kept it at the same temperature, and pretty much thought the same thoughts as I prepared the frosting everyday. However, like the bird calls at a game on television, it didn't come out the same way every time. Some days were perfect, others we soft, but did I stop doing my rituals, no.
My boss makes french maccarons, which if you've ever made them you know how every little thing can ruin them. This is her big ritual/superstition. If it's warm and rainy, forget maccarons because they just won't work. Banging the air bubbles out requires so many bangs or else all is lost.
These rituals and superstitions are all figments of our imaginations that help us feel more involved in the things we cannot control. We can't control the players on the screen, we can't control if a burner is hotter than another, we can't control what the weather does to maccarons, but we believe we can. Like the commercial said if we believe it works, then it does... Most of the time.