posted 10.10.13 at 10.10 a.m. by Matt DaSilva

From the Cutting Room Floor:
October LM Covers That Weren't

Don't judge a book by its cover.

That's a great line to live by, unless you're the editor of a national magazine whose value often is attached to the contents of its cover. You could spend hundreds of hours perfecting the interior pages -- our October edition was 80 pages, plus covers (front and back) -- but first impressions mean everything.

A clunker of a cover usually results in me turning the magazine face down when our advanced copies arrive and hoping it never again sees the light of day.

Questions I hear often as the editor of Lacrosse Magazine: How do you pick your covers? And how do you pick who makes the cover?

The answer to those questions vary from month to month. After each edition drops, I'll use this space to share some insight into the cover that made it, as well as the alternatives that were axed before press, starting with the October issue.

This special Sports Science and Safety edition went in-depth on the scientific and human elements of concussions, ACL injuries and other lacrosse-related health and safety matters under the microscope here at US Lacrosse. There's a lot we like about the cover we chose (above right). Thanks to the graphic design talents of Gabriella O'Brien, we were able to merge a Body Wars-like stock image of an anatomical figure with a lacrosse action shot. We liked that the head (concussion) and knee (ACL) were in the foreground, and we thought this image best illustrated the premise that as science has evolved, so has our understanding of its role in our sport's safekeeping.

Below you'll find three alternative covers we considered. (Click to enlarge and launch the photo player.)

While they're all pretty cool in their own right, each had drawbacks that precluded us from pulling the trigger on it.

The first alternative featured an X-ray-like illustration from behind with an emphasis on the brain and spinal cord. We blurred the masthead as an effect, representing the blurry vision that could come as a side effect of a concussion. Ultimately, we figured, this image focused almost too much on the brain and did not address other areas at risk of injury in lacrosse -- like the knees, chest, ankles and hands. (Did you know the thumb is the most commonly injured digit in lacrosse?)

The second alternative features Brad Ross, whose bout with persistent post-concussion syndrome anchors the Sports Science and Safety package, and the powerful quote Corey McLaughlin used to lead the story: "I'm 28 years old, and I'm worried about long-term brain issues." It certainly grabs you, but it felt more like a public service announcement than a cover.

The third alternative was the best of several options where we depicted high and blind-side hits in men's lacrosse -- the biggest offenders in causing concussions. It's a great photo by Kevin Tucker from the 2012 NCAA tournament game between Maryland and Lehigh. But would it be fair to single out one team or one player and make it or him the poster child of foul play? That did not seem right, especially since we do not know what consequences came of this particular hit.

What do you think? Did we make the right choice? Sound off in the comments. We are gluttons for punishment.