Poll results: 1 in 5 fans try to improve luck for favorite team

Updated: October 23, 2007, 11:04 AM ET
Associated Press

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 released Tuesday.

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 time expired.

"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.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press