The SI Cover Curse And the Final Four

Through the course of the sports year, and ahead of big sports events like the Super Bowl or the World Series or the NCAA Tournament, I sometimes take a cursory glance at the recent covers of Sports Illustrated and specifically those that feature said upcoming sporting event, mostly to see if the “SI Cover Jinx” still has it’s mojo intact. This is made exceedingly easier via their iPad app since there is a library of past issues that go back a few years to when they started offering digital versions of the magazine.

For those of you who don’t know, the “SI Cover Curse” is an urban legend where those athletes or teams featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated are cursed and/or jinxed to suffer loss, injury or both within a reasonable time frame after the cover story/feature. As you will see in examples listed at the above linked Wikipedia page, this is not a passing fad and it goes back years.

With Final Four weekend upon us, I thought it would be interesting to look at the SI covers and see if the “SI Cover Curse” could be a pseudo predictor of who may cut down the nets this weekend at the Final Four down in Atlanta.

And I want to be crystal clear here. I am the biggest Syracuse homer that you will find. My support and belief that my Orange(men) will win it all this year (and every year) is, and will forever be, unquestioned. That is, until the finality of a game’s result sets in. And to that end, sometimes you realize that there are forces (or Coaching ineptitude) at play that are beyond your or my control.

To start, let’s go to the SI College Hoops Preview back in November. Cody Zeller and Indiana are on the cover. As we know, they were sent home in the Sweet 16 round by my Syracuse Orange. And wow, did Zeller look really really bad in that loss.

Next, let’s look at the SI issue from March 25. They had a regional split of covers that included Indiana (Victor Oladipo), Gonzaga (Kelly Olynyk), Kansas (Ben McLemore) and Syracuse (Michael Carter-Williams). Indiana fell in the Round of 16. Gonzaga lost to Wichita State in the round of 32. Kansas choked lost to Michigan in the Elite 8. Only Syracuse is still standing.

And this week, SI has another regional cover split that includes Wichita State and Louisville (along with Tiger Woods and we won’t get into his, ahem, transgressions).

Louisville - Still alive
Louisville – Still alive

So if we cross reference all of these recent College Basketball focused covers this against the Final Four teams of Syracuse, Michigan, Wichita State, and Louisville, we see that the only team which has not been featured on the cover is Michigan.

And in this case, I fear that the Michigan Wolverines may have the advantage of the “SI Cover Curse” in their favor, since they have NOT been featured to date on the magazine’s cover.

Now, another factor to be considered here is the fact that “magazines” as we have known them are not nearly as influential in the media world as they once were. However, for some strange, outer body reason, the influence of the “SI Cover Curse” seems to be pretty alive and well.

Based on the above details, and I want to be clear that this is not my prediction or how I want things to play out, it appears that the “covers” are telling us that Louisville will beat Wichita State, Michigan will beat Syracuse, and Michigan will beat Louisville in the Finals on Monday night.

Damn, it hurts to write that.


I downloaded this week’s copy of Sports Illustrated to my iPad (I also found a paper version of it in my mailbox too…very strange concept, this magazine thing.) and to my intense horror, saw that Tom Brady and my Patriots were gracing their cover. How could they?

For those of you uninitiated into the ways of sports superstition and Sports Illustrated, it is well documented that sports teams and athletes appearing on the cover of SI have subsequently suffered athletic failure and injury of all shapes and sizes. For those of you naysayers, read through the list on the Wikipedia page…its too frequent an occurrence to be a fluke.

And beyond the Wikipedia page, just take a look at the image above from my SI iPad app library. Four of the past six covers (including this week’s with the Pats on it) have featured NFL teams in the Playoffs. And what do you know…every NFL team featured on the cover (before this week) have been promptly dispatched from the playoffs – Tebow and the Broncos, Rodgers and the Packers, and Alex Smith and the 49ers.

My only hope that the Patriots don’t end up suffering this same indignity is that SI does the noble and right thing and put the Giants on next week’s cover which comes out ahead of the Super Bowl. Maybe having the Giants on the cover next week will “out-jinx” having the Patriots on the cover this week. I can only hope!

UPDATE 2.1.12: Well, it looks like SI has it out for the Patriots. Coming off of last week’s cover shot of Tom Brady, they went ahead and pulled a double doozy on the Patriots by putting owner Bob Kraft on its cover. That’s two weeks in a row of bad SI cover karma.

Sportsmen of the Year

In a seemingly fitting end to a magical baseball season in Red Sox Nation, Sports Illustrated has named the 2004 Red Sox their Sportsmen of the Year for their improbably and spectacular run to the franchise’s first World Series win in 86 years. We just can’t get enough of this story!! The Red Sox have now been on the cover of Sports Illustrated six times during 2004 and it will be seven when their year end Sportsmen issue hits newsstands soon. The cover art is really cool and it is yet another publication that I will add to my collection of magazines, newspapers, photographs and lithographs that I have accumulated this year. Lets hope this off season is not too damaging and the Sox can make another strong run in 2005 into late October.

Double SI Curse

This can’t be happening. Last week, Sports Illustrated put Tom Brady and my New England Patriots on the cover of their NFL Preview issue (and then have the gaul to not even put an article about the team in the issue!). Then this week, SI puts Curt Schilling and my Boston Red Sox on the cover. Consipiracy theorists will note that Sports Illustrated is edited in New York City and that the Managing Editor, knowing full well about the “SI Jinx”, must be a Yankee fan.

Sure, its nice that two of my favorite teams are part what is probably a unique situation (two different teams from two of the major sports, from the same marketplace, gracing back-to-back covers of Sports Illustrated…I’d love to know if this has happened before). However, I think I speak for everyone in Red Sox Nation, and Patriots Nation in asking the editors of Sports Illustrated to please find another set of teams to put on the cover at this time. The Red Sox are playing brilliantly these days and they don’t need any supernatural forces cooling them down. And they have famously had more than enough trouble winning championships in the past 82 years, while repeating as Super Bowl champions is not exactly the easiest task, even if the Patriots have vastly improved themselves this year vs. their 2003 championship team.

As most sports fans know, there has been a strange but un-scientific curse on some of those who have appeared on the SI cover during critical points in their season or career. The curse has resulted in critical losses by teams appearing on the cover, and season ending injuries for star players, and just strange happenings to the person or team that has appeared on the cover.

Update: In keeping with the legend of the Sports Illustrated curse, Curt Schilling pulled a ligament in his right ankle during the Anaheim series and, as we all know, got shelled during the first game with the Yankees. As you can see above, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Coincidence? Curse? The evidence is there. Same thing happened to Nomar two years ago.