The Haka (credit: Phil Walter/Getty Images)
For some reason, people love to follow traditions that have been passed down from previous generations. For some, they have no clue how the tradition began, but they just know it is a tradition and they plan to continue it. Others have thorough knowledge of how the tradition started, why it continues and are excited to keep the tradition moving forward. Spots fanatics have their own traditions when it comes to their favorite teams. This is one thing that brings fans together and boosts support for the home team.
The Haka is the signature dance of the New Zealand rugby national team. This rugby team is also referred to as the All Black. This traditional dance was the dance of the Maori people of New Zealand and is used for a variety of celebrations in the past, especially when they were preparing for war. In 1884 it was first performed before a rugby match and has been a repeated tradition ever since.
Despite attempts from the Rugby Federation trying to ban this tradition, the Haka remains embedded in New Zealand culture. So this pre-game warmup remains as an attempt to intimidate the visiting team. The Haka is also used by many teams neighboring New Zealand and it is used as the Hawaii football team. The rich history behind the Haka is what makes it one of the best sports tradition.
Back in 1963, the old show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was covered by Gerry and the Pacemakers, a Liverpudlian band. This was a hit in the UK, spending four weeks’ time at number one on the charts. Because this song was such a hit and was continually being played by the DJ at Anfield, it ended up being the song played right before kickoff. Liverpool supported would sing this song when it was being played at Anfield and the tradition continued long after the song dropped off the Top 10 chart. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is now a part of this team’s tradition and continues to be sung before games by fans. It has even become the face of the franchise and can be seen everywhere, including on the club’s insignia and the Shankly gates of Anfield.
The Hockey Handshake
The handshake is the ultimate form of sportsmanship and though it is commonly used after a hockey game, it actually pre-dates the NFL. The post-game hickey handshake is one of the most iconic sports traditions in the world. This tradition signifies more than just congratulating the opposing team on a job well done.
The hockey handshake is an expression that shows opponents you respect them and shows your appreciation that they worked just as hard as you did. This is a way to leave any issues players may have from the grueling game they just played on the ice. It may have been a tough game, but in the end they are all friendly with one another.
A Florida State sophomore — Bill Durham — came up with the idea of a Seminole Chief riding out on a horse and planting a burning spear into the middle of the field back in 1962. It was his dream to have this occur before every FSU football game. However, he never dreamed this vision would come true. In 1977, Bobby Bowden made this tradition come to life and now before every game you can witness Chief Osceola plant his burning spear into the middle of the football field before the team takes the field. This tradition not only gets the team fired up, it also pays homage to the Seminole tribe. You are sure to get goosebumps when you see Osceola riding out as the Seminole war chant fills the air.
It does not matter if the game you are watching is football, basketball or soccer — rushing the field after a home team’s victory is a fun tradition. This tradition happens at all levels of athletics, including high school to professional sports teams. This tradition is most commonly conducted when there is a big win or huge upset. Though there have been injuries in the past associated with rushing the field, students and fans still carry on this tradition supporting their home team.
There are many other sports traditions that are recognized and practiced around the world. Some of the other traditions that are worth mentioning include:
- Drinking milk after the Indy 500
- Hockey Playoff Beards
- The Gatorade Bath
- The Lambeau Leap
- Detroit fans tossing of the octopus
- Seventh Inning Stretchy
- Exchanging of the Jerseys
- Not acknowledging a player’s first home run
- Pie in the face after a walk-off
No matter what your favorite sport is or which team you are rooting for, chances are there is a tradition associated with it. These traditions help rally fans and bring a sense of excitement to the field. This is why so many teams and sporting events have traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. It makes the sport more interesting and exciting for the many who participate and watch from the stands.