Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sports Newspeak: Things Coaches, Athletes, and Announcers Shouldn't Say

Look - there are some people in sports who can do and say no wrong; Madden could read the Federalist Papers and it would be just as hilarious-slash-wtf as his MNF commentary. Cosell, Albert, Berman, Vitale, Carey - every guy has his list of classics who defined the trade. They can do no wrong. Nor can the old standards who are there to keep your focus on the sport, not the color commentary like Costas and Michaels. Nor can the big personalities like Deion, Tiki, and whoever shouts GOOOOOOOOOAL! On the other side of the mic are the golden-tongued coaches/managers (Holtz, Bowden, Torre, Riley to name just a few) who get away with saying the craziest things.

All those guys could make knitting interesting with the the force of their huge personalities.

This blog series is for everyone else. As the theory of multiple intelligences tells us, people can be really good at some things and not so good at others. There's no causal link between one type of intelligence and another. Athletes get recognized based on their physical "intelligence." Some are lucky enough to also have strong interpersonal and verbal "intelligences." Others ... not so much. Sadly, that doesn't stop many from trying to overcome stage fright with big words and fancy phases when presented with a mic. Often, they end up just parroting stuff they've heard other people say, even if it has little to do with the topic at hand ... and even if they don't really know what it means. At best, it's inane. So, why say it?

I suppose it's because we listen with baited breath to everything they say. We're all obsessed with these guys. Since the days of gladiators ... OK, probably genesis ... we have idolized and venerated physical prowess leading to victory. Unfortunately, we over-do it. Victory is not always directly ascribable to some dude's super-human aptitude.

Here's my own personal list of peeve phraseology that just makes us dumber, football edition:

Take Care of the Ball (v): The ability to not mess up. Just say "don't fumble."

Movement in Space (adv): Usually referring to an athlete's awareness or acuity in finding gaps in the opposing team's formations or plays. Just because the guy got a few yards doesn't necessarily mean he has some genetic mutation giving him radar-vision. So just say "good job running to a place where the opponent wasn't."

Good Feet (n): Another attempt to ascribe a specific success to an athlete's overall endowments. Just say "Good. He didn't fall down."

Hard-Fought (adj): Passive-agressive method of complimenting yourself via complimenting your opponent which can be used irrespective of whether your team won or lost. Just say "I think we're super."

I'm not Thinking About the Future... (ic): A thinly-veiled attempt to convince yourself that others believe you when you say that you're truly incentivized by the joy in the hearts of your fans, as opposed to the eight-figure contract your agent is negotiating or your mom says you deserve when you get to the pros.
Also: I'm just looking ahead to Sunday.
Also: All that matters is beating our next opponent.
Also: One game at a time.

Game-Time Decision (n): A way to avoid announcing a stupid decision you've made in the hope that, in retrospect, it will appear much smarter or will get forgotten.

No comments: