Quarter of a Century of Sports Cliches

One of my favorite chapters in the book I wrote (Is having a favorite chapter in my own book against author etiquette?) is the one on sports cliches since we’ve been talking about sports (fans, media, and athletes) for much of the past century, but we’ve seldom said anything that wasn’t a cliche. It’s difficult to imagine a topic so often discussed but so rarely discussed in fresh terms.

A friend recently sent a link to a Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist, Gene Collier, who devotes a column each year to cliches related to sports. In this year’s “Trite Trophy” column, Can’t manage without “Manage the Game,” Mr. Collier managed to stuff over 100 cliches into one column. I’m impressed.

I had also written about the deserving winner (manage the game) last October, and it’s interesting to see some of the previous award-winning cliches (this is the 25th year of the Trite Trophy) that are still popular today, including 1980s winners crunch time, gutcheck, playing ’em one at a time, They went to the well once too often, and He coughs it up. One of the least effective (and dumbest) phrases in the English language, It is what it is, was a two-time winner (2005, 2006).  Based on how many times I still hear people stating the obvious in that way (what else could it be–other than what it is?), it could have won in 2007 and 2008 as well, but I guess that, itself, would be trite!


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