If you – or someone you know – is a sports fan who wears a “lucky” shirt to watch every game, then here’s a question you may have wondered: Are sports superstitions just fun rituals, or are they a form of OCD – or obsessive compulsive disorder?
It’s a question many people have asked since the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” came out. For those who didn’t see it, Robert De Niro plays a Philadelphia Eagles superfan, who thinks the only way his team can win is if he watches every game while sitting in a certain chair, clutching a team handkerchief, with the TV remotes arranged a certain way.
Believe it or not, sports superstitions like that – and anxiety disorders like OCD – do have a lot in common. For example, there’s what psychologists call the “what if” factor, where people think: “If I don’t do this, then I’m responsible for a bad outcome.” He says a lot of sports fans think their team will lose if they don’t follow certain rituals. And people with OCD think the same way. Like, if they see a piece of glass on the street, they might think: “If I don’t pick that up, then someone will step on it, and then I’ll be responsible for the injury.”
So, does that mean every guy with a lucky hat has OCD? No! The key difference is that most sports superstitions fade once the game’s over. Meaning, you take off your hat, and go back to your normal life. But with OCD, the obsession never fades. And in severe cases, it stops people from having jobs or relationships, because they can’t function in normal life. In other words: As long as your crazy sports superstitions don’t interfere with your everyday life, then good news – you don’t have OCD!