Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sports Illustrated cover jinx

In case you missed it, the Oklahoma State football team was on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, and they deserved it after whipping Georgia at home in what was billed as the biggest game ever at OSU. It was heady stuff for the Cowboys, a school which has, until this season, never been on the cover of that sports weekly magazine.

You have to wonder if anyone in the Cowboy Nation, in the giddiness of the publicity, thought, "uh oh, bad things happen to those who appear on the cover of SI." Did Boone Pickens call any cronies at Time Inc., when discovering the cover shot, to yell "What are you thinking!"

In true SI jinx fashion, the unthinkable happened--Oklahoma State lost yesterday at home to Houston.

Much has been discussed about the SI jinx, a phenomenon which the editors of the magazine finally noted in 2002 when they placed a black cat on the cover and Alexander Woolf wrote these words:

In investigating virtually all of SI's 2,456 covers, we found 913 "jinxes" -- a demonstrable misfortune or decline in performance following a cover appearance roughly 37.2 percent of the time. One of the most fascinating things we discovered seemed to buttress Loehr's contention that the Jinx is more likely to strike athletes in fine-motor-skill sports like golf and tennis than smashmouth sports like boxing. Golfers were "jinxed" almost 70 percent of the time and tennis players after more than 50 percent of their appearances, while boxers suffered barely 16 percent of the time.

My favorite Jinxstance has to be the fate of University of Washington quarterback Bob Schloredt, an All-America who was pictured taking a snap on a 1960 cover. A week later, the heavily favored Huskies lost to Navy when the Middies scored in the final minutes following Schloredt's fumble of -- you guessed it -- a snap.

The Sports Illustrated cover jinx--alive and well this week...and being cursed in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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