He’s hit 13 of the last 13 fairways.
He’s had no bogeys in 87 holes.
She hasn’t two-putted today.
What’s next? A missed fairway, a two-putt, a bogey. Naturally.
In each case, the subject of the on-air commentary is oblivious to it. But in each case, the golfer then fails to continue the streak (if it’s positive) or does the very thing being ruled out (if it’s negative). Ah, the announcer’s curse.
A state or condition in which an athlete fails to perform a skill
that an announcer just praised him or her for.
Also known as “announcer’s jinx.”
– Urban Dictionary
Of course it’s not really a curse: it’s coincidence. I mean, if I hear someone commenting on my performance it might throw me off, but people saying things doesn’t perversely, magically, make the opposite thing happen. Does it?
No, of course it’s not really a curse and so there’s no reason for me to cringe when I hear an announcer say this sort of thing about a golfer I’m pulling for. No, it’s just coincidence compounded by selective perception. All the counting is on the one side: We don’t notice when a golfer hits a fairway or makes a putt after the announcer has just pointed out their success at doing exactly that.
No, of course it’s not really a curse.
But what could it hurt if we tried to harness this force-of-the-universe-that-has-a-name-but-that-certainly-isn’t-a-curse? Could we effect a reversal of fortunes? Sort of a reverse curse (if there were curses) (which there aren’t) (I mean, we know that).
For golfers it would look like this . . .
He/she’s missed every one of these short putts.
And then, they would (perversely) sink the putt! Ta da!
For the rest of us it might look more like this . . .
He/she’s never been able to lose weight /
finish a program /
find a good job /
stay in a relationship /
get a good photo of a hummingbird.
And then, we would (magically) be svelte, edumacated, gainfully employed, celebrants at our 37th anniversary, and holders of a photo credit in National Geographic. Or all of them at once! Ta da!
Of course, unlike the golfers my life has no on-air announcer, just that voice in my head. Some say our self-talk should be unremittingly positive. I dunno, I might give another approach a whirl for a while. The universe can *be* pretty perverse. And magical. You know?
Post script: This next bit came to me this week from that Big Coincidence-Maker in the sky. The set-up is that a wily suspect has eluded arrest by Inspector Grant and Sgt. Williams and is now on the run.
Three telephones kept ringing like demented things, and by post, telegram, wireless, and personal appearance the information poured in. Nine-tenths of it quite useless, but all of it requiring a hearing: some of it requiring much investigation before its uselessness became apparent. Grant looked at the massed pile of reports, and his self-control deserted him for a little.
“It’s a big price to pay for a moment’s lack of wit,” he said.
“Cheer up, sir,” said Williams. “It might be worse.”
“Might be worse! Would you tell me what occurrence would, in your opinion, augment the horror of the situation?”
“Oh, well, so far no nut has come to confess to the crime, and waste our time that way.”
But the nut arrived the next morning.
Grant looked up from inspecting a dew-drenched coat which had just been brought in, to see Williams closing the door mysteriously and mysteriously advancing on him.
“What is it, Williams?” he asked, his voice sharp with anticipation.
“The nut,” Williams said.
“The person to make a confession, sir.” Williams’s tone held a shade of guilt now, as if he felt that by mentioning the thing yesterday he had brought the evil to pass.
– “A Shilling for Candles” by Josephine Tey, published 1936
You see? Perverse.