Tag Archives: sports-illustrated

Outliers, Regression and the Sports Illustrated Myth

By appear­ing on the cov­er of Sports Illus­trated, sports­men and women become jinxed and shortly there­after exper­i­ence bouts of bad luck, goes the Sports Illus­trated Cov­er Jinx myth.

‘Evidence’ of the myth comes in the form of many indi­vidu­als and teams who have died or, more com­monly, simply exper­i­enced bad luck in their chosen voca­tion shortly after appear­ing on the cov­er of the magazine.

The Wiki­pe­dia entry for the Sports Illus­trated Cov­er Jinx has a thor­ough list of some “not­able incid­ences” and also provides a con­cise, sci­entif­ic explan­a­tion of the phe­nomen­on:

The most com­mon explan­a­tion for the per­ceived effect is that ath­letes are gen­er­ally fea­tured on the cov­er after an out­lier per­form­ance; their future per­form­ance is likely to dis­play regres­sion toward the mean and be less impress­ive by com­par­is­on. This decline in per­form­ance would then be mis­per­ceived as being related to, or even pos­sibly caused by, the appear­ance on the magazine cov­er.

Related: The Mad­den NFL Curse.

via Ben Gol­dacre’s Bad Sci­ence