Opinion: Curse or Coincidence? A Look Back at Sports History

Detroit Red Wings’ mascot, Al the Octopus, on display at Joe Louis Arena, former home of the Red Wings. Al came to be after two Detroit brothers who owned a fish market allegedly threw an octopus onto the ice during a game in 1952. That same season, the Wings won the Stanley Cup (Photo via Wikimedia Commons).

Curses have been a part of sports throughout history, and many teams and players feel as if they have been affected by them. 

Are they a real thing to be concerned about, though? 

For the Detroit Red Wings, a new sponsored jersey patch defacing their classic jerseys may have tampered with their mojo, as they have only won three of their last 10 games since the patch was added.

The Red Wings’ sponsor is Priority, a waste management business. Wings fans have thus deemed the uniform to be stained with a “trash patch,” cursing the team and causing all seven of the team’s losses this season.

A Brief History of Curses in Sports

But, the Wings are far from the first or only team to be working against the supernatural. For example, during the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers in 1945, William “Billy Goat” Sianis wasn’t allowed to bring his goat into game four at Wrigley Field. Sianis, angered, cursed the Cubs until they would allow his goat into Wrigley. 

The Cubs would then go through an insufferable stretch of losing seasons, minimal playoff success and no World Series appearances. The curse finally ended decades later, when the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016.

Going even further back in time, in 1918 the Boston Red Sox sent all-time great pitcher Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox, having previously won five of the first 15 World Series Championships, could not win another for 86 years. This trade became known as the “Curse of the Bambino,” and is cemented in sports history as one of the biggest blunders ever made by the Red Sox.

Another example of a curse in the sporting world is the “Madden curse.” It’s simple: NFL players who have appeared on the cover of the popular Madden video game series tend to get hurt or lose big games. 

A famous example of the Madden curse arose in 2018 when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was featured on the cover of the game. Despite playing well, he was a problem in the locker room. This led to his trade to the then Oakland Raiders. Brown never found footing on another team again, only playing a few more games for teams like the Jets and Patriots. 

Local Sports Curses

We even have a curse here on Albion’s campus that a few sports teams acknowledge. 

If you step on one of the purple and gold painted crests on the pavement near the admissions building or Vulgamore Hall, you are doomed to tear your ACL or have some other serious injury. I was informed about this by my lacrosse coach during one of my first visits to campus, so I knew it was serious right away. Fortunately, I haven’t stepped on it yet and my ACL has yet to be torn  – knock on wood.

Should the Wings be Worried?

Do all of these curses provide enough evidence to support the Red Wings’ case? All signs point to yes. Priority may not be intentionally sabotaging the Wings, but I feel there is a correlation between the “trash patch” and the Wings’ recent struggles. I mean, ever since the Wings announced the jersey patch on Feb. 29, they’ve gone from one of the hottest teams in the NHL to losing both seven straight games and star captain Dylan Larkin to a lower-body injury.

However, the team has found some success.

With the Wings in contention for a wild card spot for a chunk of this season, they just lost their spot to the Philadelphia Flyers after a loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. If the Wings get it together, they will be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

With the Wings in contention for a wild card spot for a chunk of this season, they just found themselves in the second spot as of Sunday. If they can maintain some success, the Wings will be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

Furthermore, The Wings’ offense has been electric this season, with veteran forward Patrick Kane signing with them in November of this past year. Other notable players this season include captain center Larkin, right-wing Alex DeBrincat, and left-wing Lucas Raymond

While I think that the “trash patch” is a disgrace to the legacy of a storied and beloved hockey club, there doesn’t seem to be enough holding the Wings back at this point. They just beat the New York Islanders pretty handily on March 21 but lost to the Nashville Predators on March 23, so there are still some things to be worked out. 

I’m not too worried overall, though. All the Wings need to do is “Innovate and Operate.”

With their backs against the wall, the Red Wings have a couple of options to bounce back. First, they can get rid of the patch defacing what has been a pretty much-unchanged jersey for the better part of 90 years.

Another thing the Wings can do is pretty simple: Win some games. With 11 games left, the Wings go up against some good teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning

But more than anything, the Wings need support from the fans. I went to a Wings game in December, and the stadium resonated with the loudest cheers I’ve heard in a while whenever Detroit scored. 

So keep going to games, Wings fans; “trash patch” or not.

About Aidan Shapiro 9 Articles
Aidan Shapiro is a sophomore from Clawson, MI and an English major at Albion College. He is mainly focused on, but not limited to writing about sports. He writes as a way to express what he is passionate about. He also plays on the lacrosse team here at Albion He can be reached at AJS26@albion.edu.

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