Until they emerged in this year's World Series, many felt the Chicago Cubs had been suffering from a curse. While some dismiss that notion, UB associate professor of anthropology Phillps Stevens, Jr., says, by definition, a curse has been in place.
A curse, Stevens explains, "involves words, spoken words. The term, curse, is loosely used to a variety of spells, hexes, jinxes and so on, that interfere with someone's ability to do whatever he or she wants to so."
The Cubs, despite decades of hapless play, have been trying to win the World Series, an achievement last enjoyed by the franchise in 1908. They haven't appeared in the Series since 1945.
"It is a form of magical thinking that is absolutely universal," Stevens said of curses.
"Anthropologists are interested in ethnological generalizations about all of humanity. Sports superstitions are just one manifestation of forms of magical thinking."
"People everywhere know that words can have great power to make things happen."
But intellectual discussion aside, will the Cubs win it all?
"The Cubs themselves, I understand, are sick and tired of hearing about it," said Stevens, who became a follower of the team during his days in graduate school at Northwestern University.
"Yes, I think they will overcome it, " Stevens laughed.