Women’s Softball and the Collaborative Spirit of Magic
Journal of Business Anthropology 9(2): 317-339 Fall 2020
23 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2021
Date Written: September 15, 2020
All 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.
Keywords: magic, superstitions, women’s team sports, collaboration
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