Everything Language and Grammar

Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Ball Security Issues

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 15, 2013

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Twice today, during two different football games, I heard an announcer say about a player who fumbles often: “He has ball-security issues.” Twice!

If you need further proof that we’ve become afraid to simply state what we mean in a simple, direct fashion, then I don’t know what to say.

I’m trying to imagine football announcers of the 1970s saying that a player who fumbles often has ball-security issues; having a hard time imagining it. Ball security issues!

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Opening Night of Football and Football Cliches!

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 7, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

Charlie Brown and Lucy van Pelt

The NFL season opens tomorrow with a special Thursday edition of Sunday night football on NBC. Or, is it a special Thursday edition of Monday night football on ESPN? Or, is it a special preview of the upcoming Thursday night football telecasts, which kicks off (nothing begins in football–it always kicks off) on week 10 on the NFL Network (meaning that most people won’t be able to watch)?

I’m not sure, but since we here at Everything Language and Grammar enjoy football, we’re glad it’s here.

Unfortunately, it’s not always a joy to listen to the announcers because of their tendency to use cliches or make grammatical mistakes. I mean, seriously, if you want a good drinking game, then take a drink every time Troy Aikman says “what” (or “watt” as he says it) when it doesn’t belong in a sentence, such as “That’s a longer pass than what he normally throws” instead of simply “That’s a longer pass than he normally throws.”

You’ll be more tipsy than Joe Namath during a Suzi Kolber interview by the middle of the second quarter.

Speaking of football cliches, here are a few of the worst 20, according to the Bleacher Report:

  • The other team just wanted it more.
  • He’s deceptively quick.
  • We have to play a full 60 minutes.
  • They have to take care of the football.
  • That guy’s a throwback.

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League Slams Players for Foul Language–Circa 1898

Posted by languageandgrammar on June 17, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

For those of you who believe that poorly behaving athletes is a modern problem, check out this yahoo.com blog: Late 19th century ball players sure used creative vulgarities.

The blog highlights a memo (I don’t know what it was called then!) from the league, highlighting some of the vulgarity used by baseball players around and, in some cases, directed at fans, issued in 1898. The blog shows the offending phrases blocked out, but the article includes a link if you want to see the uncensored correspondence.

I’ll put it this way: It’s a good thing that they didn’t have access to Twitter back then. Yikes.

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Super Ad Sunday–Greatest Advertising Scam in History

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 4, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

The commercials during the Super Bowl have seemingly become so important that perhaps we should call the day Super Ad Sunday, but I don’t understand the one-day obsession with the ads.

It’s the biggest scam of the advertising world:

  • Commercials are annoying–365 days per year: Every other day of the year, the commercials (many of which were first shown during last year’s Super Bowl) are avoided because they’re annoying interruptions, but we can’t wait to see them on the day of the big game. Why?
  • Commercial Premieres–are you kidding me? The value of a premiere of anything that’s going to be available time and time again has questionable value, but the concept of caring about a commercial premiere is inconceivable to me. You’re going to be sick of the commercial by the end of the month.
  • Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer–The very concept that commercials are important has led to the goal of making more and more outlandish commercials each year, meaning more juvenile, sexist, or dumb commercials (or all three in the case of beer ads.)
  • Repetition Backfires–Anything clever (or in most cases when dealing with commercials, tries to be clever and fails) quickly loses its charm after incessant repetition–you know, like how commercials are run.
  • Cost–Stats about how much Super Bowl ads cost are cited more often than player stats, with many of us marveling at the cost. In a capitalist society, the cost is passed on to people who buy the products being advertised, which are the people watching the game. In other words, we’re being handed a roughly $300 million bill to be paid in full with future purchases. Our excitement by this something is to marvel at.

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Come On, Newspaper!

Posted by languageandgrammar on January 18, 2011

We all make typos, but come on, New Orleans Times-Picayune!

(For more, see the Yahoo Sports blog)

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Trite Trophy Winner 2010: At The End of The Day

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 26, 2010

Gene Collier, a sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, has awarded the “Trite Trophy” to a deserving sports cliche for the past 27 years. In the column, he mocks commonly used sports phrases and mixed cliches in what has become a literary tradition of sorts in the ‘burgh.

Based on the column (Trite Trophy: A cliche for all (sporting) seasons), he’s a man after my heart. This year’s deserving winner, “at the end of the day,” appears in my book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever). He also mentions a few others that made my book.

In this year’s column, Collier lists more cliches than I can count–ok, not more than I can count–more than I bothered to count. It looks like at least 75.

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Interview: A New Definition, Thanks to Randy Moss

Posted by languageandgrammar on November 1, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

I love it when professional athletes talk. If it’s not a humorous mixture of mangled cliches and mixed metaphors, then it’s some outlandish, self-centered statement that only a media person trying to make a name for himself is interested in hearing.

Now, one  professional athlete, Randy Moss, has decided to redefine the word interview:

If it is going to be an interview, I am going to conduct it. So, I will answer my own questions and ask myself the questions and give you the answers. So from here on out, I am not answering any more questions the rest of this season.

Interview used to mean “a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of one or more persons from whom material is sought for a newspaper story, television broadcast, etc.”

Now, thanks to Randy Moss, it’s a one-man show!

Maybe Randy will also redefine the word pompous to mean “regard with the utmost esteem.” If he does, then he’ll have plenty of company from the world of professional sports.

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Even Bing Crosby Believed in Sports Jinxes

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 25, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

One of the funny things that sports fans do is believe that they can influence the game by attending it, watching it, listening to it, or even being in the same country as the game.

If that were true, imagine the competing influences if the New York Giants were to ever play the New York Jets in the Super Bowl, with millions of fans on each side jinxing the outcome of the game. The greatest city in the world would likely crumble in the midst of the tumultuous energy of so many would-be jinxers.

Either that, or the winner of the game would actually be determined by the players on the field rather than the fans.

The silliness of the superstition of fans believing that their mere following of a game will result in a negative outcome extends beyond the average fan to the superstars of entertainment.

It turns out that Bing Crosby felt the same way, fearing that his merely being in the country would jinx the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series in 1960 against the New York Yankees. Crosby was a part-owner of the Pirates (who through the early 90s were one of the great franchises of all time–strange what 17 consecutive years of losing does to a team’s reputation).

As a result, Crosby hired a high-tech company to record the game, long before the modern VCR was invented, and the resulting tape of the historic 7th game (when Bill Mazeroski hit a game-winning walk-off homerun for Pittsburgh) is the only known copy of the game.

Because of Bing Crosby’s illogical and common sports paranoia, the game is not lost forever.

Read more at the New York Times.

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Thoughtful Sports Figure?

Posted by languageandgrammar on June 10, 2009

We usually give examples of poor communication in the blog, but I recently heard a quote from an unusually candid and thoughtful sports figure. Since sports personalities usually answer in nothing but cliches, I thought the exception  was worth noting.


When Pittsburgh Penguin (National Hockey League) coach Dan Bylsma was asked if his team had any doubts before a possible elimination game in the Stanley Cup Finals, he did not respond with the type of evasive and dismissive answer that we’ve grown to expect. He did not immediately say, “No. We always think we’ll win” or “No, our team always gives 110%” or even the tired, hubris-filled “If anyone on this team thinks we’re not going to win, he should just leave now” response.

Instead, he said (paraphrased since I wasn’t taking notes!), “I’m not the type of person who dismisses thoughts that come into my head. Of course, we have some doubt.” He then went on to explain that the team had a choice, either to focus on the doubt or prepare to win the game.

Positive Language

The quote was simple and, in my opinion, representative of a positive way to approach language and life–another example of words to live by. Many of us are so busy denying doubt or fear that we don’t ever get to the part about focusing on what we want.

When asked if we’re ready for a new challenge, we defensively say “I’m always confident” or “I know I won’t have any problem” or “I don’t worry about things like that” each time, always  suppressing and denying an honest emotion of doubt. The doubt will remain in your head until it’s addressed, at which time it will disappear, having done its job.

If you feel a doubt about an upcoming event (even a small amount of doubt), admit that it’s there. It’s a natural part of being  human. Then,  release the doubt and focus on what you want. You will then  approach the upcoming event with a complete focus on the task at hand instead of having your focus split between the task at hand and the doubt that has never been addressed.

By the way, Bylsma’s team, which had been one that lost as many games as it won prior to his taking over, has won 33 out of 43 games, including a regular season record of 18-3,  and is one win away from a championship.


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Baseball’s What Not to Say

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 6, 2009

I apologize to all of the people I know who will read this and think I’m singling them out because they will most likely make some version of the statement during the next 24 hours. I’m not, and that’s part of the point of the type of statement I like to call “You Thought You Were Clever, But….” We all do it–we make that non-clever, obvious statement even though when we hear the very same statement, we roll our eyes and shake our heads.

Do  your friends, family, and co-workers a favor, and don’t make any of these comments about the local Major League Baseball team after the first game of the season:

  • The Pirates are going 162-0 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates won’t go 0-162 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates will win one game this year

There are probably other versions, but you get the point.

It’s not funny. It’s not original. It’s as annoying as saying “See you next year” on December 31.


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