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

See all articles by Timothy de Waal Malefyt

Timothy de Waal Malefyt

Fordham University - Gabelli School of Business

Peter Johnson

Fordham University

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Malefyt, Timothy de Waal and Johnson, Peter, Women’s Softball and the Collaborative Spirit of Magic (September 15, 2020). Journal of Business Anthropology 9(2): 317-339 Fall 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753515

Timothy de Waal Malefyt

Fordham University - Gabelli School of Business

113 West 60th Street
Bronx, NY 10458
United States

Peter Johnson (Contact Author)

Fordham University ( email )

113 West 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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