Women's Soccer Star Hope Solo Is Cursed

Hope Solo Sports IllustratedPoor Hope Solo. We had such high hopes (no pun intended) for the goalie of the USA Women's Soccer Team. She's intelligent. Poised. Classy. Talented. And pretty to boot. And then along came the Sports Illustrated cover.

There she is, this week, with the giant letters "Heart and Heartbreak" across the right side of her upper torso. It refers, of course, to the Japanese win in the final of the World Cup. But suspicious types are wringing their hands this week at what it could mean for Hope's future.

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I'm talking, of course, about the notorious Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Based on around 30 instances where a sports figure suffered a devastating blow to his or her career shortly after appearing on the famous mag's front page, it dates back to the '50s, but the jinx seems to have picked up speed in recent years. In 2011 alone, four players have been hit, including Chicago Bears quarterback (and recent ex of Kristin Cavallari) Jay Cutler, who tore his MCL shortly after showing up on the cover. The Bears also lost to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, sending the Packers to the Super Bowl.

So where does Solo fit in? The most common explanation for the jinx is that athletes get the SI cover treatment after a particularly standout performance, something that goes beyond their normal scope of abilities. They go downhill afterward not so much because of the cover, but because they were at their peak.

Look at Solo. Until recently the only Americans who knew her were die-hard fans of American soccer. Scratch that, American WOMEN'S soccer. And sadly, there just aren't that many of them (no disrespect, I said sadly ... as a woman and mother of a young female soccer player, I'd LOVE to see that change). Right now, she's at her pinnacle. She's in demand by advertisers. She's considered a draw for the Chicago Marathon. She's appearing on TV, where they let her kick soccer balls at NYC cabs. But like so many athletes in these "not very popular sports," she's going to see the bottom drop out soon enough. And this cover might have just pushed her over the edge.

Here's hoping I'm wrong!

Are you a Hope Solo fan? Did you know who she was BEFORE the USA women wowed us at the World Cup?

 

Image via Sports Illustrated

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