Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

Photo by Mariah Wilson

Three famous sports stories more haunting than any hard losses or poor plays

By Christie Melhorn, October 27 2017 — 

Season-ending injuries and social media scandals aren’t the only scares athletes experience. Team superstitions and rituals are often perceived as entertainment but are generally performed with firm belief. The following paranormal stories might offer some insight about why many professional athletes cautiously approach the metaphysical dimension of sports.

The Gipper:

The spirit of halfback football player George Gipp is rumoured to linger on the University of Notre Dame campus. Gipp’s record of 2,431 rushing yards — along with his handsomeness — made him a student athlete icon. Famed sportswriter Walter Cameron, known as the “Father of Football,” named Gipp the first “All-American” — a title for outstanding amateur athletes in American team sports.

But shortly after, Gipp caught pneumonia from spending a night sleeping on the steps of Washington Hall — a campus landmark distinguished by its sharp gothic architecture. His tragic death swiftly followed on Dec. 14, 1920, during his senior year.

According to Notre Dame’s website, students began reporting traditional paranormal phenomenon of unexplainable footsteps and doors slammings after Gipp’s death.

Whether or not Gipp truly haunts Notre Dame, his dedicated athletic spirit lives in Notre Dame’s athletic community.  His story is also immortalized in the film Knute Rockne, All American and inspired a line famous in football folklore ­— “win one for the Gipper”.

Frontier Field:

With its lush turf, crisp shale and clean chalk lines, Frontier Field in Rochester, New York embodies a vintage American vibe. However, it’s not just the field’s aesthetic that echoes the past. The Rochester Red Wings baseball team supposedly share the space with a collection of spirits.

According to ESPN, human bones were discovered during the stadium’s construction, inspiring suspicions and conspiracies among the stadium’s staff. In 2004, Rochester Paranormal were invited to asses Frontier Field. Psychic investigators reported encountering a number of spirits, some of which they claim to have captured as misty figures in photographs.

The study, coupled with overwhelming informal reports of spectral sightings, led to Rochester Paranormal naming Frontier Field as an “officially” haunted stadium.

The stadium’s hauntings are vivified in Field of Screams by Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon, which I promise is not a Goosebumps novel. The legend of Frontier Field may be about as true as a Goosebumps story, but the idea of it is at least enjoyably chilling.

The Oklahoma Thunder’s good luck charm:

The Skirvin Hilton Hotel — an imposing brick building in downtown Oklahoma — is the part-time residence of visiting National Basketball League teams. However, a mischievous presence believed to dwell there makes many NBA players feel less than welcome.

According to the New York Times, a woman named Effie was the Skirvin’s alleged housekeeper in 1930 before becoming apart of the Hilton chain. She was rumorued to be impregnanted by the hotel’s owner, W.B. Skirvi, during an affair. Ever the slimeball, Skirvin demanded Effie keep herself and the baby scarce by confining themselves to a room on the hotel’s top floor. Driven insane by the isolation, Effie supposedly launched herself and her child from the room’s window. Eerie knocks, seductive whispers and faint cries of a baby resonating throughout the hotel are credited to the ill-fated pair.

Sacramento Kings small forward Caron Butler unabashedly told the Times that everyone in the NBA knows about Effie. While playing for the Knicks, centre Eddy Curry only slept two hours before game day and lingered in fellow player Nate Robinson’s room for fear of being alone.

Power forward Taj Gibson, with the Chicago Bulls at the time, claimed the bathroom door of his room slammed shut “for no reason” in the night. Taj’s then-teammate, David Rose, was a skeptic-turned-believer after also being terrorized by abrupt crashes and bangs that evening. Since many players note Effie’s role in their loss against the Thunders, she’s known as their good luck charm.

Many dismiss Effie as a product of athlete superstition or as a cushion for sorry losses. Regardless of the story’s authenticity, she is an entrenched part of NBA culture and brings metaphysical meaning to home-court advantage.


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