Joel Reichenberger: Trying to avoid the cover curse
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia — I have a confession to make.
I may have cursed Arielle Gold.
Yep. If things don’t go as planned Wednesday when she competes in the women’s snowboarding half-pipe event here at the Winter Olympics, I may be to blame, not Sports Illustrated.
In my defense, I didn’t do it on purpose.
Our final big pre-Olympics package this winter was about Arielle and Taylor Gold, and the siblings were nice enough to spare about 90 minutes for myself and Luke Graham on one of their few days off between the X Games and their trip to Russia.
We talked about nearly everything we could think of and when we left, we had everything we needed for what turned out to be a fun, unique story that was featured on the Feb. 2 Sunday newspaper.
Then, sure enough the next day, Arielle shows up on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
That’s news. That has to be in the paper, and we definitely needed a quote from the cover girl. Especially when we know athletes are as media-overloaded as the Golds were leading up to the Olympics, we like to bug them as little as possible, which definitely meant calling about 20 hours after a 90-minute interview was a no-no, but this had to happen.
So, I kept it quick and I forgot a big question.
I forgot to ask about the famous Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
I’ve seen the myth — that whoever is on the cover soon will lose — in action. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was on the SI cover last football season, giving K-State only it’s third real cover story in the magazine’s history.
Then the Wildcats lost in a huge upset against Baylor about 48 hours later.
Of course, the myth can be soundly defeated with a little bit of logic. Teams or players only make the cover when things are going really well, so often there’s no place to go but down. Plus, there are just as many players who are featured who continue to do exactly what they’ve been doing.
There’s no cover curse.
Nevertheless, it seemed like a fun question to ask someone who’s actually on the cover. I thought of the question about 10 seconds after hanging up.
Well, no sweat, I was set up to see the Golds the next day for a portrait at their house. When I walked in, as they were getting ready, I mentioned my oversight to Arielle.
“Oh hey, I remembered yesterday I forgot to ask you if you were worried about the Sports Illustrated cover curse.”
I expected a laugh. I got shiver.
“What cover curse?” she asked.
I’m pretty sure bringing the cover curse to the attention of someone who didn’t previously know of its existence is some kind of double curse.
I guess we’ll find out. If things don’t go well, I may lie low for a while.
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