Sports Phrases to Eliminate

I've been wanting to throw this feature out there for a while, so here we go.

Every year, there’s a Web site out there that cites the phrases and terms that just need to be retired from everyday use. Things like “bling” made it a few years ago, to give you an example. And this got me to thinking that we should come up with a list of sports-related terms and/or phrases that simply must be done away with. The list – for now – is below and is in no way exhaustive. We invite and encourage you to help us with this and share others we haven't thought of and some of your pet peeve, go-to, lazy broadcaster phrases.

“and oh, by the way…” – ESPN analysts use this one constantly. CONSTANTLY. One of the worst abusers is Mike Golic who puts it into any sentence no matter how non-worthy the subject matter is. He’ll tell you that the Lakers won and that, “andohbytheway, Kobe had 38 points.” No, Mike, no. No “andohbytheway” necessary. Just quit it.

“flat-out” – what does this even mean? As far as I can tell, this has one acceptable use and that’s when you’re describing someone or something’s top speed or something very similar to that. You can say, “Tony Stewart ran 195 MPH flat-out for the final four laps” or “Running flat-out, Tim is the fastest sprinter I’ve ever seen.” You cannot say, “Tom Brady can flat-out play.” It doesn’t make any sense. What does the “flat-out” add to that?

“take one game at a time” – I know people have made fun of this for years but still… shouldn’t that have been enough to get it retired? I mean, how else can you take games? Does Matt Painter ever sit in the Purdue locker room and advise the troops, “Okay, men, I know we’ve been playing well and we seem really focused, so let’s take our next four games and play them all at once on Saturday.”

“focus” – Okay, this one sort of has some sort of sense to it but can we all agree it’s wildly overused? Everything is about focus and not being focused or they were more focused than their opponent or we had to get away from home so we could focus or we had to get back home so we could focus… it’s exhausting all the focusing it seems teams and players are doing.

“Giving 110%” (or any variation) – Again, an old one. But still widely used. And not just by broadcasters; this is something Billy Packer will say during the NCAA Tournament every year. Percentages don’t work like this, mouth-breathers. No matter how hard you try, nothing can ever be more than 100%. 100% is maximum capacity.

“literally” – This one is overused all the time, too. You hear people actually say “literally” when something is actually happening figuratively or only in the broadcaster’s mind. “Vince Young literally plowed his way into the end zone!!” Really? He actually, physically, drove a truck with a snowplow on the front through the defensive linemen and into the end zone? I’m fairly certain that’s not allowed. I even heard someone on ESPN radio recently say that a pitcher was “literally melting down.” Wow, that had to be pretty traumatic for the other players to witness as he turned into a puddle of goop.

“the reality is…” – Everything that happens is reality. You don’t need to say this as though everything else we were discussing is fantasy.

Using “courage,” “hero,” or other such words to describe athletes – This includes “warrior” or "soldier," too. They’re athletes. They play sports for a living. Usually for tons of money. There’s nothing – NOTHING – courageous about them. I know saying someone is “great” or “incredible” gets boring, but let’s not anoint anyone as the next Marvel Comics superhero just because they can score 30 points in a half.

“We just have to make plays.” – No fricking sh-t. This is code for “I don’t know the answer to your question about our second half strategy.”

“He just knows how to win” or “He/they find(s) a way to win.” – Unless he loses. At which point you say this about the other guy.

“Just well enough to lose.” – What does this even mean? It’s a stupid cliché that makes no sense at all. To do this, one would have to know precisely what their team is going to do that day and then, play well but just slightly worse than the other team. Intentionally. Otherwise, I don’t see a scenario in which this makes any sense whatsoever.

“He knows how to play the game” or “He plays the game the right way” – I always hate this one because it’s pure laziness. A guy legs out a double and hustles the whole way and so we say he plays the game the right way. Yeah, I guess. But what’s the alternative? Holding the bat by the wrong end and facing the stands? A shortstop wearing a foam finger on his hand instead of a glove? A basketball player with his shoes on his hands?

“intangibles” – This one bothers me because it’s what a lazy analyst uses to cover his ass. I think the game will come down to scoring and defense… and, of course, intangibles. Meaning, the things I can’t think of because I’m a mouth-breathing moron. I’d venture to say that 90% of the people who use “intangibles” in analysis couldn’t possibly define it.

“He’s the X-factor” – You can’t define the x-factor, fools. That’s what it’s called the x-factor. If you say “Eli Manning’s ability to complete passes in the fourth quarter will be the x-factor,” then it’s not the x-factor. He just needs to complete those passes. An unexpected lightning storm that strikes Eli in the helmet would be an x-factor.

“He manages the game” (in reference to QBs) – In other words, I can’t think of anything good to say about this guy and I’m amazed he hasn’t lost every game he’s ever played because he sucks, so I’ll just say he manages the game.

Controlling one’s own destiny – You can’t “control” destiny. If you believe in such a thing, it’s already…destined. Get it? You can control your own outcome or situation or future…but not destiny.
“That’s a football player right there.” – Just in case we thought he was a jockey on his way to Churchill Downs.

“That is a golf shot.” – Don’t. Be. Lazy. Tell us something. Don’t say something one of my idiot buddies would say on the weekend at the muni.

“Shocked the world!” – No, you did not. Unless it’s the World Cup, nobody in Ghana cares what you just did.

Invoking religion and thanking God, but only for good things – Look, there’s nothing wrong with being religious. But I hear players credit Jesus as the reason they won a game, scored a winning touchdown, etc. Just once I’d love to hear someone say in their postgame interview, “Well, we were doing just fine until God made me fumble at the goal line.”

“long” to describe a player – Jay Bilas loves to say a player is “long.” Where, Jay? In the Johnson region? How about just saying he’s tall? Where did this long crap come from? He’s not an alligator.

“He'd like to have that one back.” – Broadcasters say this about pitchers (who also say it) all the time in baseball. “Yeah, the changeup that Pujols hit 500 feet in the 6th… that’s the one that Martinez would like to have back.” I don’t get where this came from. Of course he’d like to “have back” the pitch that got drilled. Doesn’t that go without saying? I mean, while we’re at it, wouldn’t every team like to “have back” every season that they haven’t won a championship? That’s so damn stupid. Stop saying it.

Others? Please share.

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