March Madness Pregame Rituals from a Louisville Fan!

Sports and superstition seem to have a long, weird relationship with one another. Before big games, fans and players alike find themselves engaging in ridiculous acts of weirdness in the hopes of pleasing the almighty sports gods above to allow their team to have this important victory. I’m no different as over the years I’ve developed a growing series of ritualistic acts that I find absolutely necessary to ensure that my team has the best chance at winning. For me, these sorts of habitual formalities reach peak stupid every year during March Madness as I continue to do my part to help my team, which happens to be the Louisville Cardinals.

Having said all that, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my pre-game rituals and habits that I’ve developed over the years in hopes of either A.) passing some along to other fans or B.) getting suggestions on new and/or improved practices.

Most of my pregame tradition/superstition comes in the form of particular songs and records that I must listen to before tipoff, but I would like to point out a few weirder things that I’ve done. At the start of the 2012-13 season (the year Louisville won their last championship) I used my girlfriends special expensive conditioner every morning on Gameday. After my shower, for years I’ve made sure to wear my favorite pair of underpants which happens to be a set of Reebok compression boxer briefs to ensure maximum comfort even during the most turbulent games.

On to the musical cues: To really increase Louisville’s luck, I listen to a series of songs that have some sort of relevance to past Louisville Basketball glory. I’ve listed these songs below along with why they’ve become part of Cardinal lore:

PREGAME SONGS:

Kenny Logins – “This Is It”

This song was adopted by the 1980 championship team as the theme to their season. Yes, it’s a bit corny but tradition is tradition, and this song is most definitely a part of Cardinal lore.

Kernkraft 400 – “Zombie Nation”

This song is definitely not unique to UofL as a lot of teams used it as arena hype music. Having said that, Louisville utilized the track for pregame player introductions during their 2005 season, the first year that Rick Pitino took us to the Final Four. Louisville hadn’t been since ’86, and I’d never personally seen them get that far, so this little diddy is definitely special.

Timbaland – “The Way I Are”

Like the last song, “The Way I Are” was utilized for UofL pregame warm-ups during the 2008-09 season, the year that Louisville earned the overall number one seed in the tournament, but was bounced out one game shy of the Final Four after a puzzling defeat from Michigan State. Despite falling short, that team was one of my favorites of all time. T-Will, E5, Sosa, Samardo… I really liked watching those dudes play.

PREGAME VINYL:

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After blasting those rockin’ tunes on Spotify (or iTunes), I alter my attention to my turntable and listen to a pair of most excellent records. First, I listen to Cardinal Fever, a country music record that was recorded after Louisville won their first championship in 1980. The songs are mostly up beat and catchy and all lyrically about Louisville basketball. With song titles like “The Best Team In Kentucky” and “Od to Coach Crum”, you know you’re getting a legit collection of tunes. I actually ripped the audio from Cardinal Fever a few years ago; download/listen to this record  here.

Second, I listen to a 7inch single from Rick Bartlett called “Catch That Cardinal Spirit” which was released sometime in ’83. The song is a funky toe-tapper with lyrics like “Come and get it Louisville, come experience the thrill” you know you’re in for a treat.

DURING THE GAME:

Like a lot of other people, I have a few lucky shirts that I rotate, usually color coordinated to whether Louisville is wearing the home whites or the away reds or blacks. If Louisville isn’t playing well, I’ll change my shirt in hopes of a turnaround. I’ll also change hats if needed.

I drink beer out of my special UofL mug because it rules:

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During timeouts and commercials, I frantically check Twitter to get analysis and snarky commentary from a few of my favorite local sports personalities. Here are a few I recommend you follow to maximize your in-game experience:

@CardChronicle – Mike Rutherford’s account, a must-follow for any UofL fan
@TheOnlySweeney – Andy Sweeney, host of The Midday Rush on ESPN980
@ericcrawford – Great local sports writer for WDRB

IN CLOSING:

No, this series of meaningless acts doesn’t always work, but it sure makes me feel good about the big game going in. Now that I’ve shared a few of my pregame rituals, are there any that you partake in before tip off/kick off/face off/first pitch/whatever? If so, please let us know in the comments! And oh yeah, GO CARDS!