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March 13, 2007

Capitalizing, Prognosticating, Reflecting: The Sports Illustrated Global Warming Cover

Si-Global-Warming

Lately, it’s hard to know who’s not trying to dramatize and capitalize on global warming.

Still, I’m taken by how much this cover also references the Katrina disaster.  So it’s Florida, a wealthy athlete and a baseball setting.  Given the searing imprint the hurricane made on the national psyche, it’s as much a black man captured by rising water in an empty stadium.  (Taken that way, the reflection in the water is particularly eerie.)

Given his connection to Katrina, baseball, and GWD (“global warming denial”), associations to “W” are also never far way — no matter how hard he tries to revise the picture.  I’d say SI pulled its punches though.  You’ll notice, the flood seems to have left the megabuck field level seats intact.

(h/t: Baily W.)

(photo Illustration: Christopher Hercik and Si Imaging.  March 12, 2007.  Cover. Sports Illustrated.  Article link.)

  • http://molly.douthett.net lowly grunt

    We subscribe to SI and when this issue arrived, I thought, “Great! Global warming has gone mainstream!” Yet, a large portion of the article is spent pondering where the Marlins, Dolphins, Buccaneers, et al will play once the ocean reclaims their corporate owned venues. Never mind the millions of people who will be displaced. ALso, we won’t get to ski as much, either.
    Oh, well, I guess that’s the best way to get the sports obsessed to think about the problem.

  • http://www.bugseyes.blogspot.com tardigrade

    … and his pants aren’t wet and muddy and stuck to his legs…

  • Doctor Jay

    “Yet, a large portion of the article is spent pondering where the Marlins, Dolphins, Buccaneers, et al will play once the ocean reclaims their corporate owned venues. Never mind the millions of people who will be displaced. ALso, we won’t get to ski as much, either.”
    You know, it’s all good. That just makes it real to the readers of SI. Hits them where it counts. I think they understand the other stuff too, it’s just not as much of an abstraction.
    There’s a nice interaction of play/work here, of pleasure and disaster. The sports stadium is a bit of a separate world, where things are simpler, there are winners and losers, the home team and the visiting team. Our loyalties are clear, and the rules are well-understood. The complex concerns and moral grays of the outside world generally stay outside.
    But here that water is. It can’t be kept out.
    When Bush was running for President, America was at the top of its game, and many perhaps felt that nothing could touch it. Bush is, in a sense, famous for not being serious enough, merely “playing” at it. He even owned the Rangers for a time.
    The player in the cover looks a bit forlorn, like he feels, “Hey, I showed up to play outfield, what’s up with this flood? Shouldn’t someone else have been dealing with this?”

  • jtfromBC

    Creates fabulous business opportunities by freeing up fantastic facilities for Water Polo.
    Skimming over this watery topic, appropriately the C in C gets the last word.
    “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

  • http://mccs1977.com/ Frederick

    I liked Beyonce on the cover of the swimsuit issue, much more direct and to the point…”Buy Me!”

  • http://danielhumphries.livejournal.com Daniel Humphries

    The player in the cover looks a bit forlorn, like he feels, “Hey, I showed up to play outfield, what’s up with this flood? Shouldn’t someone else have been dealing with this?”
    The player is Dontrelle Willis, aka “the D-train.” For what it’s worth, he always seems to have that sad-yet-bemused look on his face. He’s a very charismatic player, though NOT a media darling or endorsement-deal queen. He made his big splash back when the Marlins won their second Championship over the Yankees in 2001, the year everyone was supposed to be cheering for New York because of 9/11 but couldn’t manage it because it was a scrappy Marlins team with Pudge Rodrgiuez (and the newly introduced D-train) against the corporate behemoth Yankees.
    It’s siginificant they chose Willis, I think. This cover would have looked diffferent if they had chosen a different Florida sports star, say Chris Simms of Tampa Bay or Shaquille O’Neal of Miami. Simms, for example, is whiter than white, and the son of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Shaq may be dark-skinned and from a poor family in Louisiana, but he has a polished media persona, MVP awards, multiple championships, endorsement deals, and that million-dollar smile. (A more literal-minded editor might have picked Shaq… he’s a much bigger star, it’s right in the middle of basketball season right now, and he’s FROM LOUISIANA!)
    Dontrelle Willis is different.
    So Willis is black, yes, but he has a sort of down-home blackness (at least as seen through the medium of television, and pardon the very broad strokes of characterization). He is very tall (a power pitcher), but always seems to stand slope-shouldered. He’s a very memorable and unique player; always seems to be standing beside himself as he competes. He’s got the highest leg kick this side of El Duque Hernandez. And there’s his trademark crooked hat. A strange character who doesn’t seem to buy into all the hype around him. This is how he came across in his famous World Series appearance, and it’s the image that has stuck in most fans’ minds, I believe. A very folksy, quirky, unimpeachably “black” man.
    I mention all this because it’s the kind of stuff that races through a sports fan’s head at light speed without us even realizing it. Every player and team and venue (and incidentally, that stadium is kinda famous for being empty even on gameday, with no floods) carries a set of ever-shifting signifiers and meanings. This kind of cover and story has far more impact for some people than more serious stories.
    PS: I never realized how much I like Dontrelle Willis before!

  • john

    “The player is Dontrelle Willis, aka “the D-train.” For what it’s worth, he always seems to have that sad-yet-bemused look on his face. He’s a very charismatic player, though NOT a media darling or endorsement-deal queen. He made his big splash back when the Marlins won their second Championship over the Yankees in 2001, the year everyone was supposed to be cheering for New York because of 9/11 but couldn’t manage it because it was a scrappy Marlins team with Pudge Rodrgiuez (and the newly introduced D-train) against the corporate behemoth Yankees.”
    It was the Marlins and the Yankees, but the year was 2003. It was after the Yankees made the World Series on Aaron Boone’s ALCS Game 7 extra-inning walk-off homer. The Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
    With regard to the cover, all the analysis about Katrina is fine. But perhaps the image is meant to signify exactly what it depicts: the Florida Marlins ballpark being empty as a result of constant thunderstorms (shown as a flooded ballpark), which is hurting the team financially. People don’t come to the park knowing that there is a very good chance that the game could be rained out. Because of that, the Marlins need a stadium with a roof, and if they can’t get it, they may have to relocate. If you tie the weather with global warming, you could see how that’s “changing the game.”

  • ice weasel

    I don’t think I mean this to be as glib as it may sound but is anyone else here really appalled by the generally mediocre Photoshop work involved here? It’s almost a cartoon. The sub-caption might be “The world before Photoshop-when cut and paste meant cutting and pasting”.
    I suppose, as happens here, one might opine that the rather cheesy nature of the image is intentional and then wrangle over what message is really being sent (see how unbelievable this global warming idea is) but I tend to think it’s simpler than that. It’s just poor work.
    In the end, I don’t think it’s about the message, perhaps more about SI’s level of intensity on the subject. To wit; if they had wanted to craft a truly compelling image, for the front the cover of their magazine, couldn’t they have done so? Of course they could. SI has the resources and this isn’t the kind of story that just suddenly popped up. So why didn’t they do a better job?
    Truth is, I don’t know but I thought it was worth mentioning.

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  • noen

    I don’t think I mean this to be as glib as it may sound but is anyone else here really appalled by the generally mediocre Photoshop work involved here? It’s almost a cartoon.

    I agree, very poorly done. Could that be no accident? Maybe it’s meant to be cartoonish? It has a surreal quality to it that’s for sure.

  • http://www.dougwatts.com Douglas Watts

    I agree with Noen. To me, the unapologetic obviousness of the photo-shopping reinforces the point of the cover — that sports is an escapist venture to begin with, and as such, the idea of climate change invading this climate-controlled fantasy world of sports is surreal on its face. It also conveys the very real aspect that none of us — including sports fans — have truly come to grips with what might be our future if global warming is not curbed asap.
    It’s an interesting and effective treatment, I think.

  • http://www.bizplusblog.com Kevin Price

    I didn’t like SI doing its cover story on Global Warming. Like you, it appears everyone is trying to make a buck off if it and the science is suspect. I think SI should stick to the serious business of sports, which is why I subscribe to it. I discuss it at http://www.bizplusblog.com. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • http://www.whitedade.blogspot.com White Dade

    I actually found this to be one of the coolest covers SI ever did. Very imaginiative, the Marlins playing under 7 feet of water. It incorporates a very visible result of global warming and incorporates color (the stadium seats) and a visible athlete. I loved it and it remains one of the more imaginative photos I’ve ever seen.

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