Eagle wings

It took me a while to get the symbolism. “Why are the band and cheerleaders trying to distract our free-throw shooters,” I wondered every time a member of the Boston College men’s or women’s basketball team went to the foul line and members of both the BC band and cheerleading squad crossed their hands and flapped their fingers.

Baldwin the Eagle

It’s a venerable tradition for basketball fans to do anything in their power to distract members of the opposing team as they’re taking foul shots, and BC fans are no different. At professional basketball games, fans will often wave distracting signs, balloons, or other props while the opposing team takes their foul shots. At last night’s Boston College men’s and women’s basketball double-header, the band was particularly vocal, offering catcalls whenever either opposing team–Central Connecticut in the men’s game and Saint Francis in the women’s–took free-throws. But why would the Boston College band and cheerleaders try to put a hex on their own team?

It finally dawned on me that the crossed hands and flapping fingers aren’t a distracting gesture: they’re eagle wings, intended as a sign of good luck to members of the BC Eagles as they take their foul-shots. “May the ball in your hands take flight like an eagle and fly right into the basket,” the flapping fingers seemed to say. Athletes and their fans are a superstitious lot, so any sign of good luck that seems to work must be a good thing. Last night, those flapping fingers apparently sent a lot of good luck the Eagles’ way as the men’s team beat Central Connecticut 80-65 and the women’s team beat Saint Francis University 99-68. Let’s keep those fingers flapping, Eagles fans!