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Meaningless Clichés Spouted by Sports Media -- and Their Pointless Opposites

In celebration of Sports Cliché Week, we hate on the worst perpetrators of clichés: The sports media!

Sportscasters and sports writers (we’ll just call them “Sports Guy”) don’t actually communicate. Rather, Sports Guy spouts forth a spray of words that, once unraveled, should reflect one of two possible positions: THIS IS GOOD or THIS IS BAD.

They’re easy, they’re obvious, they’re repeated ad nauseam -- they are sports clichés.

Clichés allow the typical Sports Guy to appear interested and interesting, but actually disguises the fact that, were he not in his current position, Sports Guy would probably be working as a fence post.

The problem with clichés is that they're dressed up to be analyses, which would imply some amount of study and consideration. But clichés are generally meaningless. For instance:

“He makes his teammates play better” and
“He carries this team on his back”

Sports Guy loves the Sports Hero, the “go-to guy,” who has “the heart of a champion” (veteran) or “tremendous upside” (rookie). Sports Guy will always qualify that a team sport depends on more than one man -- but when the Hero shows up with a great performance, you’ll hear all about it. If the team wins but the Hero was somehow not so heroic, well, the Hero’s spread that ineffable quality that makes him great among his teammates! 

In the final analysis, the Hero is great from every angle.


“They’ve gotta come together as a team” and
“They’ve got great team chemistry”

Generally, Sports Guy will choose what he thinks about a particular team’s ability to come together and perform early on, then stick with it throughout a season. Thus, a team will have “great chemistry” even when they lose a couple games, or they still “gotta come together” even when they’re in position to take it all. And if a team that “wasn’t gelling” somehow does manage to win the championship, well, they “put the pieces together” just like Sports Guy said they had to.

No matter what, circular reasoning makes Sports Guy always right.


“He gives 110 percent!” and
“He’s gotta step up if they’re gonna pull out a win”
If a player is performing well over the course of a game, getting lucky breaks, or both, he’s going “above and beyond,” has “great instincts” and is a “real warrior.” He’s playing so well, he’s playing beyond the possible -- he’s giving it 10 percent more than he actually can.

And if he’s playing poorly? He may have “lost a step or two” or be the “subject of trade rumors.” Either way, whether his team wins or loses depends entirely on him being able to “step up” and not being outplayed by the other guy (who, not ironically, is either going to be identified as playing “110 percent” or is in need of “stepping up”).

Someone wins, someone loses, and Sports Guy is there to tell us about it in the least interesting way possible.


"Defense wins championships” and
"The best defense is a good offense”
Naturally, many teams will have an outstanding offense or tremendous defense as they go into the playoffs. Depending on which team they’re watching at the moment, Sports Guy will pronounce which side of the equation is most important to success on the field. “They’re here because of their [fill in the blank].”

The real fun begins when a top defensive team meets a great offensive team, at which point “all bets are off.” Until a result occurs. Then Sports Guy can once again pronounce which side of the ball is more important to winning –- leaving us to wonder why the players on the other side decided to show up in the first place.

dudedrama dudedrama 36-40, M 21 Responses Jul 7, 2009

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Great story, and so true. Nowadays if you don't give 110% you're pretty much a slug, and should be benched.<br />
<br />
My favorite sportscaster of long ago was Ernie Harwell. I don't know if this qualifies as a cliche or not but he had a line he often used that I listened to him just to hear it when there was a great play. <br />
<br />
"I'll tell you one thing, WOW"

What a shame Dudedrama is not with us anymore. He was one of the most creative posters ever on EP. Thank goodness he left all the gems.

great post! then again I knew it would be.. the stars were aligned from the opening play. I knelt and prayed at the end.

I like to watch sports. But the commentators annoy me. There seems to be nothing new they can say.

So much of this is true.

I am an Aussie and a sports addict. I love every sport you can name..Ladies Synchronised Swimming excepted. <br />
I am 42 and play veterans soccer and swimming. I travel considerably, particularly to the USA and Europe. I have my favourite team in every country and like it or not, I am a Yankees, Giants and Islanders follower.<br />
I agree with what you say about the media to the hilt. In USA in particular, they have invented their own vocabulary. Many callers sound too biased and over-zealous. To call a play "110%" is simply idiotic.<br />
Fortunately, they do not go so far "over the top" in Oz,<br />
but the bias is very prevalent.<br />
Thought your posting was spot on.

LOL @ Cassandra - dead on! <br />
<br />
I could care less about most sports (you know, the ones millions of people watch but have absolutely no relation to?) but I enjoyed reading it. Sports Guys - just another version of the mass produced human.<br />
<br />
It is quite odd that you're a sports fan and demonstrate good grammar and form. Perhaps this whole post is sarcasm?

Many of the sports guys skirted their education as they didn't need to study. They probably think a cliche is an insect or a bird.

I didn't come from a sportscaster culture where the announcers felt compelled to fill every cranny of dead air with their voices. They're kinda sad. <br />
I'd say the same for journalists in general. Other people do, they talk and they feel a need to become part of the decision process instead of simply reporting. Thanks to the 24 hr. newscycle where we have about 10 mins. of news a day and the rest of the time is a vacuum waiting to be filled. And fill it they will. <br />
It's always fun to go back with the wisdom of hindsight to read or listen to their predictions, which are more often than not wrong.

I am a sports fan and what I see in EVERY sport when they interview the pla<x>yers is that the pla<x>yers use the same answer structure:<br />
<br />
BEFORE GAME:<br />
"well uh, we just uh, gotta uh, get pucks on net/kick the ball out to ____/etc., and uh, play hard<br />
AFTER GAME:<br />
win: well uh, we just went out, and uh, played a little harder, and uh, it payed off.<br />
lose: well uh, we played hard, but uh, they played a little harder, and uh, we just need to uh, forget this game and uh, move on to the uh, next game.

I'm not a sports fan either, sorry about that jake,.

Ah, sportscasters, can't live with them, can't live without them!

I got a good chuckle out of the comment. I play fantasy baseball and the sports guy have had me so confused with the pun of words regarding a vet and/or rookie. But you gotta love them. Loved the story!

sorry, I'm not a sports fan. Thanks anyway Jake.

THIS WAS DONE VERY WELL INDEED!

Thanks for this one Jake!<br />
:)<br />
slave.alex

No sports fan here, but sportscasters are probably the main reason i was turned off before i even looked, so i LOVE what you wrote, and found it quite amusing. Thumbs up for the commentator of commentators! <br />
:)<br />
slave.alex

I don't begrudge anyone their pastimes. Just not my thing.

put zz top on,crack a beer and enjoy the sport (any)...believe me you will enjoy the game and get drunk the same time......there are a handfull of commentators who know their ****.

After being subjected to every televised sport possible over the last 26 years of marriage (which has finally ended), I have an aversion to anything remotely related to sports. So I confess I didn't get past the first part of your story, but I will tell you that among sportscasters (and all other television people), dead air is a no-no.

Well played, sir. Well played.