In 1985, Sports Illustrated came out on April 1.
Well, it was dated April 1. The magazine actually came out in late March.
With no internet or things like that yet available, Sports Illustrated took an April Fools’ Day joke to an extreme. It came as “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” a wonderfully written piece by George Plimpton.
The basic premise of the story is as follows: Finch, a fictional player, was the subject of the story. Basically, he was raised in an orphanage, lived in Tibet and could throw a fastball nearly 170 miles an hour. And he was found by the Mets.
Again, remember the year this came out.
Sports Illustrated was flooded with responses. News organizations questioned the Mets as to how SI got the scoop. There were photos and all sorts of different things.
His storied career was much shorter, though. On April 2, he announced his retirement. The following week (April 8), Sports Illustrated — in a smaller article — wrote about the retirement. Then, the next week, on April 15, SI announced the hoax.
Why do I bring this up?
Mainly to discuss April Fools. See, anymore, the idea isn’t so much about fooling somebody. Sure, you might get one or two people. But for the most part, people get it. It comes down to whether or not they play along.
With the Internet and everything else, it’s pretty hard to pull them off. So many people do them now. Even big companies — such as Google each year. Red Box did one this year where you could get food out of them. Geocaching.com did one about a tiny cache. Munzee did one about scratch-and-sniff Munzees.
Disc golf companies do them each year.
Heck, the other blog I run (Rattling Chains) did a real funny one, somewhat in the spirit of Sidd Finch. I’d highly encourage you to check it out. It’s quite funny.
For the most part, these things are quite outlandish. Most people won’t fall for them. And for those who do, it’s usually short lived. I’ve fallen for them before and I always laugh when I do. It makes it more fun.
But it seems like, these days, too many people want to break the hoax.
It’s a guarantee that if you look at places that run these jokes — if there’s a public forum with them, there will be people telling you to check the date, or that it’s a joke or whatever.
And what comes out of that?
The reality is, a good April Fools’ Day joke can really work if people play along. Especially in the comments. Work with it. Make it more fun. It’s not about believing. It’s about having fun with it.
Basically, if you are one who likes to make sure people realize it’s a joke, stop being a buzz kill. Would you yell out at a magician if you knew the trick?
In the end, people will be people. And we may never see another Sidd Finch joke go that well. But I can hope people will realize much of the fun is being part of it and believing enough to get into it and have some fun.
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