Auerbach's point is one many fans share: If the likelihood that a shooter will succeed is as random as the flip of a coin, then sports has lost, at a stroke, some of its logic and some of its magic. "What's the harm of a little mystification?" wrote Carl Sagan, who cited the Lourdes study and Gilovich's figures in his book The Demon-Haunted World. "It sure beats boring statistical analyses."
Of course the last word in our boring statistical analysis awaits. If the Jinx has existed all these years, its appearance on this week's cover might well lead to its demise—might well make it the victim of a kind of assisted suicide. In which case any cover subject who henceforth stumbles would probably know with approximate certainty that it wasn't the fault of the Jinx.
Unless, of course, it was.