WASHINGTON -- It didn't take Heather Pate long to figure out
why her beloved Auburn University football team had begun losing.
It was the pink toothbrush.
Pate, a lifelong fan of the school, has long refused to own
anything with even a hint of red, the color of archrival Alabama.
That puts her among the one in five sports fans who say they do
things in an attempt to bring good luck to their favorite team or
avoid jinxing them, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll
The survey showed no real difference by gender, race or
education in whether people try finding a way to help their team
win. But those who do tend to be younger and make more money than
those willing to risk letting the athletes determine a game's
outcome. They also are more likely to be single.
A nurse from Eldridge, Ala., Pate said she refuses to own a red
car or purchase anything crimson. So when she recently had to spend
time in a hospital after the birth of her twin sons, she was aghast
when she noticed someone had brought her a pink toothbrush. Auburn
promptly dropped two straight games.
It was all because of that "red toothbrush,'' Pate, 28, said
this week after responding to the AP survey.
There was no significant difference among the fans of various
sports in how superstitious they were, the poll showed.
Twenty-four percent of college basketball fans admitted to
trying something lucky to help their team and 20 percent of
professional basketball followers said the same thing. Fans of
professional baseball, and of college and professional football,
fell in between.
Other fans who answered the poll had their own techniques for
influencing the final score.
Lisa Rawlinson, 40, a pharmaceutical sales manager from
Huntington, W.Va., won't watch crucial Cleveland Indians games on
television. She didn't watch Sunday night but her Indians somehow
lost the decisive game anyway against the Red Sox, allowing Boston
to creep into the World Series, which starts Wednesday.
Todd Williams, 33, of Lexington, Ky., likes to watch University
of Kentucky games clad in Kentucky blue-and-white apparel -- and
clutching his lucky basketball. For Yankees fan Paul Hegyi, 31, of
Sacramento, Calif., it's a lucky bat -- which failed him last week
when the Indians bumped New York from the playoffs.
Mario Alvarado, 40, of Houston leaves Houston Texans' football
games if they are trailing. He did so Sunday and by the time he
turned the game on at home, the Texans had taken a lead -- only to
lose as the Tennessee Titans kicked a game-winning field goal as
"If I hadn't turned it on, I probably wouldn't have jinxed
them,'' he said.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 16-18 and involved telephone
interviews with 1,013 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of
plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.