Georgetown's DaJuan Summers, Connecticut's Jeff Adrien, Xavier's Drew Lavender, Tennessee's Chris Lofton, Kansas's Brandon Rush and UCLA's Kevin Love are all on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, with subscribers and newsstands in each region of the country getting the cover that will generate the most local interest.
For local fans, it's cool to see your own favorite player on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and for the players themselves, it has to be an incredibly thrilling experience to see themselves there. But something about this practice -- which Sports Illustrated has done before -- rubs me the wrong way.
In the old days of the magazine, there was always something special about the Sports Illustrated cover: It signified that this person was the athlete that we should care about. It was like all American sports fans could share in a national conversation about this one particular person. When we learn that Michael Jordan has been on the most covers, followed by Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Jack Nicklaus, we feel like we know how often those athletes have been at the center of the national sports conversation. When the covers are split up and regionalized, they feel cheapened.
And, of course, there's also the issue of the cover jinx. With six different teams getting the cover treatment, how do we know which one not to put in the Final Four in our office pools?