The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse

The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse


Ok So there’s this curse. The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse It goes something like this: If you’re featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, you’re jinxed with bad luck. Conor McGregor. Undefeated UFC fighter. finds himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated and loses to Nate Diaz in the 2nd round of UFC 196. Serena Williams. 3 time defending US Open Champion. Finds herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated and loses to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semifinals. Kentucky Wildcats. Undefeated. Sports Illustrated. They lose in the final four. A 2002 Sports Illustrated Study suggested that out of 2,456 covers that aired, 913 fell victim to the curse. That’s a curse rate of 37%. Well, maybe the fame is getting to the player’s head and they just don’t feel the need to try as hard in the next game. Or perhaps being on the cover of Sports Illustrated leads to a lot of pressure and worse performance. Or maybe Just maybe The cover has nothing to do with it If we look at baseball players and their batting averages, we’ll notice that baseball players with high batting averages in one season, often have lower batting averages the following season. And the opposite is also true: baseball players with lower batting averages in one season will have higher batting averages the following season. Batting average is a continuous random variable, so having a high batting average doesn’t just mean you’re very talented. It also means that some luck was involved, which comes from natural variability. So batting average is actually a combination of a player’s skill and some random luck. And when a player has an unusually high batting average in one season, it’s because that player is skilled at batting and because they have some extra luck along the way. Likewise, a player with an unusually low batting average has some extreme bad luck. But when the next season comes along, there’s a much greater probability that the athlete will play closer to their average skill level It’s not definite of course. It’s just that extreme good luck or extreme bad luck is unlikely by definition in any season. So statistically speaking, we actually expect this to happen where high performing players in one season decrease in performance in the following season and lower performing players increase in performance in the following season. and this trend is so common, that it has a name. It’s called ‘Regression Toward the Mean’ And because there is an element of random chance in pretty much every aspect of life regression to the mean is a pretty common occurrence. Think of heredity You might think that with two very tall parents, it’s more probably for their child to be just as tall or even taller but what’s actually the case is that if you have two tall parents their child is probably closer to average height. Regression to the mean occurs in pretty much every two variable system where the correlation between those two variables is less than 1. And on that note, did you know that the majority of women with high IQs marry men who are less intelligent than them? Shoot, it’s 2016, am I allowed to say that? Of course I am. because men with higher intelligence also, the majority of time, marry women with less intelligence. It has nothing to do with gender. Once again, it’s just regression to the mean, where the first variable is the intelligence of a person and the second variable is the intelligence of their spouse which is more likely to be closer to average intelligence. Regression to the mean isn’t just some interesting phenomenon it’s actually something very important to consider for scientific research. Imagine a study where scientists are deciding if a new drug is effective in lowering high cholesterol They take a group of people, measure their cholesterol and include the 5% of people with the highest cholesterol to participate in the study. They then put them on the medication and 2 months later see that their cholesterol has gone down Awesome! The drug is a success 🙂 Well, not quite. Cholesterol levels, like any other nonstatic variable will vary and some of the people with extremely high cholesterol measured on the first time will have that simply by chance. And because of regression to the mean, we expect the average cholesterol level of this group to go down anyway in two months whether we gave them the medicine, made them eat pineapple, or made them stand on their heads… it wouldn’t have mattered. What we really need to do to determine if this drug is effective or not is to take those people with extremely high cholesterol and divide them into two different groups. One a test group and one a control group. And the only way to determine if this drug is truly effective is if the test group reduces cholesterol to a greater extent than the control. As humans, we naturally look for causation. Instructors in the Israeli airforce noticed that after they praised pilots who performed extremely good maneuvers, those pilots would decrease in performance the next maneuver. And when they gave negative reinforcement to pilots who did poorly, those pilots would often improve. And they concluded that negative reinforcement is better than positive reinforcement Clearly it made people get better at their task. But you and I both know that’s just regression to the mean in action. It has nothing to do with the reinforcement. A side note: positive reinforcement is actually better but that’s a different story for another time So going back to the athletes from the start of our story, they decreased in performance after appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated not because of a curse but because they got to the cover due to some extreme, awesome performance that was in many ways due to chance and luck. –chance and luck that probably won’t carry over to the future So next time when you attribute something to be the cause of an improvement or a decline, remember that improvements and declines will occur no matter what, regardless of a cause. Yes, it’s probably easier to say ‘there’s a curse’ or ‘this alternative, holistic medicine made me better’ but you have to remember, sometimes it’s just regression to the mean. and not always is an explanation needed. Sometimes all you need is probability and chance. Hey! If you liked that video, you might as well check out last week’s video over here. And, if you’re brave enough, I would subscribe by clicking this button over here. I will see you next time on Zuck That

47 Replies to “The Sports Illustrated Cover Curse”

  1. Im in love with your channel
    you are awesome!

    BTW the reason i started watching your videos its because you look very good XD
    And I recommend you not to use auto focus

  2. What the heck dude I don't know how I found this channel but it's great! Good job man. Earned yourself another subscriber.

  3. Dude I love the vids! I just watched you I'm not a robot vid and I love this one too. Such great quality and editing! Can't believe you are only 14k subs! I'm new to your channel! Love the videos keep it up!

  4. like you were saying… all this positive comments might make you preform worse next time. 🙂 but nice videos i bet you will get to 100,000 subs soon, good luck

  5. Rly cool content. I mean, good interesting and original ideas transponded to rly chill and watchable videos. If you would upload every few days (and by that milked a youtube algorithm that would feauture your videos more), this channel can grow a lot in a short time.
    (Yes, i do realize that making original and quality videos every few days is extremly hard, but you shoud try. You rly are good at what you do.)

  6. definitely been some time since a youtube video induced some food for thought for me… keep up the good work!

  7. Wow! I just stumbled upon your channel, and now I've watched like five of your videos 🙂 I love your channel! You've earned a sub~

  8. He speaks like we all already know what he is saying. "The sun rises every morning. Oh and regression toward the mean occurs in every two variable system." casual talk

  9. I'm using this for my science project for school because it is so cool! Thanks for helping me out and making my day with this video!

  10. Only 6 videos on this channel? I listen to youtube on my long drives to and from work and this channel was my next big thing, but there's only enough videos to last me one day 🙁

  11. This is whats happening to fouseytube but hes not acceping it, plus hes probably going through a manic episode right now which all adds up to this craziness

  12. 2:29 my cousin is 9 and her mom is 5'8 and her dad is 6'5 but yet shes under 4 feet and my brother is 8 and our mom is 5'2 and our dad is 6'2 and my brother is taller than her…

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