One of the most exciting sports Sundays of the year is nearly upon the Bay Area. It's Championship Weekend in the NFL, and the NFC and AFC Super Bowl representatives will be determined. By far, the most exciting matchup will be in Atlanta between the Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers. While the game is being held on the East Coast, plenty of West Coast 49ers fans are doing everything they can to send positive energy to their favorite team. Fans from all around follow crazy superstitions to try to appease their various sports gods. San Franciscans are no different, with a variety of unique rituals and totems used to increase the 49ers' chances of winning their sixth Super Bowl title.
Food is an important part of any sporting event, whether it's the pre-game tailgating meal or the half-time snack run. Linda Nichols, a San Francisco native and 49ers fan for more than 20 years, has eaten the same breakfast on game days for the past eight years. "Every game day during football season, I eat the meal of an athlete: two cups Raisin Bran, four hard-boiled eggs, wheat toast, and black coffee -- though when the Niners played the Saints, I did have a few beignets."
Some fans go even further in their obsession with emulation and repetition. Marty Berringer, a Mill Valley native and 49ers season ticket holder for 22 years, tailgates every game, home or away. "Regardless of location, I make sure to fire up the grill at precisely 10 a.m. I eat all my Sunday meals from the grill: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Spicy pork sausage is always an excellent choice," said Berringer.
Dressed for Success
Apparel is also essential to ensure team success during a deep playoff run. Many fans won't wash a jersey during the season and might even paint themselves in team colors. Adam George is a San Leandro resident and 49ers fan for nine years. George explained, "This is the first real taste of success the Niners have had while I've been a fan. It all started when I bought my first ever jersey. With Patrick Willis' name and number on my back, we can't lose. Nobody's got it better than us."
Clothing superstitions aren't just limited to male fans. Julia Vitti of San Francisco might only be 25, but she has red and gold running through her veins. "My parents are both huge Niners fans, and they passed their sport insanities on to me. Every game we go to, we paint our faces, arms, and legs -- anything we can to stand out and show our team support."
Location, Location, Location
Many fans make sure to watch the games from the exact same spot so as to not jinx the Niners' chances. Will Richards of Berkeley didn't always follow the 49ers religiously before the age of 6. But 30 years later, he's watched every single game without fail. "I live close to where I grew up, which is good, since I make sure to sit on the very same couch for every single game. Just off to the left of the TV, which we did upgrade a few years back. I make sure my parents stay seated for the entire first quarter. Five Super Bowls, and a sixth one hopefully upcoming, is good enough for me to continue these superstitions."
Whatever Bay Area fans do and regardless of actual effect, they will carry on "helping" the 49ers march to victory on game days. What 49ers superstitions will you be relying on this Sunday when the Niners take on the Falcons?