Posted by languageandgrammar on December 25, 2007
Bob Costas, on Sunday Night Football, made a good point about language, so I though I’d share it.
It’s common for sports announcers and fans alike to talk about how a team “controls its own destiny” when the team playoff chances rests completely on whether the team in question wins or loses. Other teams do not need to lose for the team in question to make the playoffs–their winning their own games is enough.
He made the point that “destiny” is typically thought of something that happens regardless of our own efforts, such as “I was destined to find this job.” I had no control over it; a higher power had pre-determined that I would be in the right place when the job became available. Personally, I don’t believe much in the whole destiny thing, but that’s not the point here.
Costas’ point was that teams can’t control the uncontrollable, and he’s right. If we believe destiny to be something that is pre-determined, then it makes no sense to talk about controlling it.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
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