In sport, when everything is on the line, things can occur that make people think some form of spiritual force is playing its hand. So, I will be looking into five examples of curses throughout different types of sports to see how they became, how they “ended”, and the one that remains ongoing.
The European World Cup Curse
Firstly, the European World Cup has earned the title as being cursed as each previous winner of a FIFA World Cup, have been eliminated in tournaments in the group stages years after. In 2002, European winners of the FIFA World Cup were eliminated in the group stages of the next World Cup. Previously, 1998 FIFA World Cup winners France, were eliminated at the group stages in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Furthermore, 2006 FIFA World Cup winners Italy, were eliminated in the groups stages in 2010, then 2010 FIFA World Cup winners Spain, were eliminated in the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stages, with the most recent occasion being 2014 winners Germany, who were also eliminated in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Norm Smith Curse
The Curse of Norm Smith is the name given to the curse that was supposedly behind the Melbourne Football Club’s premiership drought. Partway through the 1965 VFL season, the club sacked coach Norm Smith. The sacking came as a massive surprise as Smith was, and still is considered, one of the greatest coaches in VFL/AFL history. Under his tenure, Melbourne was the most dominant club in the competition – participating in 8 Grand Finals, including a record seven consecutive grand finals from 1954 to 1960, for six premierships. The reason for the sacking was vague, but mostly centred around concerns that his personality was becoming bigger than the club itself. The ignominious way in which the sacking was performed, has become fodder for a “curse” within club folklore as the reason behind the club’s inability to win another premiership for 57 years. The Norm Smith curse ended in 2021 when Melbourne beat the Western Bulldogs – a curse that morbidly lasted as long as the life of the sacked coach.
The Curse of Talladega
NASCAR racetrack Talladega Superspeedway, has been said to have been cursed by a Native American shaman whilst other stories claim that it was built on an Indian burial ground. The curse allegedly explains the high number of unusual occurrences, untimely deaths, and spectacular accidents that have plagued the track since its opening in 1969. During the 1970s, on the eve before a race, roughly a dozen cars were sabotaged with gas tanks being filled with sugar or sand, and tires were slashed as well. Bobby Isaac, the 1970 Cup champion, parked his car mid-race despite nothing being wrong with the car. When asked why, Isaac claimed a voice from above ordered him to park the car. There is a really good video that delves into the history of Talladega by Youtuber EmpLemon called “TALLADEGA: Nascar’s Most Feared Track”.
The Canberra Curse
The Canberra Curse refers to the 14 years of the St George Illawarra Dragons attempting to beat the Canberra Raiders in Canberra and failing. From 2000 to 2014, Canberra was seemingly able to win all matches against St George at home, despite St George being one of the best teams in the NRL during the late 2000s. When St George finally won in Round 23 in 2014, it would only be the second time in the NRL era that they beat Canberra.
The BasedGod Curse
In May 2011, Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant, tweeted an insult directed at cult rapper Lil B, who was going by the self-appointed nickname “The BasedGod”. In the tweet, Durant expressed incredulity at the idea that Lil B had become “relevant”. In response, Lil B tweeted out the “BasedGod’s Curse”, claiming that Durant would never win the NBA championship. The two men exchanged insults and basketball-related challenges on Twitter. In June 2012, Lil B claimed on Twitter that he had lifted the curse, however, in February 2014, during the NBA All-Star Game in which Durant was playing, Lil B resumed insulting Durant on Twitter, implying that the curse had returned. Lil B later released a diss song directed at Durant entitled “F KD”. In 2016, the Thunder blew a 3–1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors. In the offseason, Durant left for the Warriors and on July 4th 2016, following that announcement, Lil B rescinded the curse again. In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games to win the NBA championship, giving Durant his first ever title.
So, this goes to show that curses in sports can occur over anything; however, if any have actual weight to them, it depends on your stance and if you support, or despise, the teams involved.