Sports Illustrated

December 2021

Through emotional storytelling and award-winning photography, Sports Illustrated provides you with complete coverage of all your favorite sports, including the NFL, College Football, Baseball, College Basketball, the NBA and more.

United States
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in this issue

1 min
jump start


5 min
same old story

FOR NEARLY 14 years, Charles Bloom has kept a secret. On the campus of the University of South Carolina, inside his office, buried within a cabinet, tucked beneath some old newspapers, are handwritten relics of one of his career’s most important—and clandestine—missions. The 13 pages of white easel paper are proof of the secret five-person committee charged by a group of conference commissioners in 2007 with exploring a College Football Playoff. Bloom, 59, a longtime athletic administrator who is now the Gamecocks’ executive associate AD, sifts through the papers. “Some of this looks like chicken scratch,” he laughs. “Hey, it’s not my handwriting!” Then he comes to a line reading, DOES A PLAYOFF MAKE THE REST OF THE BOWLS LESS RELATIVE? “Some of the issues brought up today, I look at…

1 min
bowled over

IF YOU think gambling on the regular-season whims and behaviors of 18- to 22-year-olds is a crapshoot, allow me to introduce you to the college football postseason. Yes, there are always carefully calibrated metrics to factor into your decision-making (like the SI Composite betting projections, for instance), but a bettor also has to use intuition. With bowls that often means, Which team wants to be there more, and why? Are you a big power who had national title aspirations but instead are playing a plucky Group of 5 team that overachieved? Guess which team cares more in that scenario. Did one team’s head coach get fired in November? Now you must consider whether the interim staffers were able to truly focus on the task at hand while they worried about their…

2 min
dance redux

READ IN ESPN’S The Last Dance, Michael Jordan referred to Scottie Pippen as his “best teammate of all time.” How did that go over with Pippen? “He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried,” the Hall of Famer writes in his new book, Unguarded. If this seems like an answer to the megahit documentary, that’s because it is, and Pippen wastes no time making that clear. Pippen argues in the prologue that Jordan used his editorial control of the doc to make it all but a vanity project. For instance, Pippen notes, the film ignores the Bulls’ late comeback in the clincher of the 1992 Finals, most of which came with Jordan, who had been having an off night, on the bench. “It wouldn’t have enhanced Michael’s legacy to show…

2 min
think bigger

KAHLEAH COPPER was the victor and wanted to enjoy the spoils, which in her mind did not mean talking to the media. The Sky had won their first WNBA title, beating the Mercury in four games. Copper, 27, was the Finals MVP. But when she ducked into the press conference room at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena wearing champagne-resistant goggles and was asked to stay, she asked, “Right now?” She had celebrating to do. Right now is a good summation of when the WNBA should expand, for both business and basketball reasons. It has had 12 teams since 2010, which is too small for a major U.S. sports league. Four of the nine largest TV markets do not have a WNBA team. That includes Copper’s hometown of Philadelphia, which is No. 4, is…

1 min
pre-feast grub

IT’S A well-known, immutable law of the universe that you can’t watch football with a group of people and not snack. But what if the game is to be followed (or interrupted) by a massive holiday feast? Michael Symon (left) knows plenty about both food and football: The Food Network star and author of the forthcoming Fix It With Food is a serious Browns fan. When he was a kid going to his grandfather’s for dinner, light snacks meant celery and peanut butter. Now when he hosts Thanksgiving (“my favorite holiday by a million miles,” he says), he still goes with some vegetables. “I’ll put out a couple of bowls of fresh radishes with some butter and sea salt,” Symon says. He also likes cheese and charcuterie, because they are bought…