Women’s Softball and the Collaborative Spirit of Magic
AbstractAll major US sports are high in superstitions because motivation to win is high and the game outcome is uncertain; athletes purportedly engage in superstitious behavior to reduce anxiety, build individual confidence and cope with uncertainty. Sports is also a male domain, where men traditionally display individual, masculine achievement. We observe magic rituals practiced in a women’s college softball team not as a means to overcome anxiety or display individual prowess, but as a way to blend creative individuality into the unity of the social whole, which manifests as a social narrative of the team. We analyze individual and team magic in two forms –institutionalized magic and individual superstitions – which build idiosyncratic behavior into a collective team dynamic. As such, this essay shows how women use magical power collaboratively. Women on a college softball team partake in practical work and magic, such that participating in magic through empathy and sensing one another creates team identity, allowing the reimagination of forms and outcomes.
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