I’d like to issue a plea to TV football play-by-play personnel and analysts to work on their grammar game. Or, to put it into football commentator vernacular, please talk good.
I’ve been on a crusade for several years now - mostly conducted on Twitter which is to proper grammar what the Taco Bell jingle is to Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction - to get football commentators to stop saying “Michigan is on their own thirty" and “Look at Notre Dame - they’re ready to make their move.” This is fifth grade English, guys. Michigan, Notre Dame, USC and even Florida State are “its” not “theys.” “Michigan is on its own thirty" is correct. Or, “The Wolverines are on their own thirty" is correct.
I’ve noticed many of you also love to say “very unique” which is very wrong. I’ve heard some of you utter “over-exaggerating” and “lacksadaisical”.
It’s not necessary that my friends in the booth speak perfect English. I certainly don’t. I realize it’s just a football game and not a grammar contest. But can you strive to sound like people who’ve completed middle school?
If Viagra and Levitra commercials are gone from football telecasts because erectile dysfunction is something kids should not hear about what of the legion of youngsters who grow up with lousy grammar from listening to football analysts with atrocious language skills? (I do agree with removing the ED ads from games. This keeps kids’ minds unpolluted for when they play that new video game “Decapitated Head Bouncing Down The Road.”)
There’s more mangling of the English language in the football broadcast booth than by the PA announcer at the Redneck Games. The cast of “Jersey Shore Family Vacation” has better linguistic skills.
Perhaps the worst offender, Emmitt Smith, aka, “King of the Malapropism” left the booth a few years ago. Great player, not-so-great analyst, who is remembered for uttering the following:
“Eli Manning has been given the rice of passage.”
“The strengths of the Patriots team got debacled.”
Hiring Smith as a TV analyst was the worst decision since Mickey Rourke went “Think I’ll get plastic surgery” and Tiger Woods uttered, “I have plenty of room to back up without hitting that tree.”
Then there’s Erin Andrews who reportedly once said, “Some are still fixiated on the postseason loss but (Aaron) Rodgers is over it.”
Also discouraging is the heavy reliance on clichés by our commentators, analysts and sideline reporters. How many times have you heard the following:
“Coach him up.”
“Smash mouth football.”
“It’s a chess match.”
“The X factor.”
“Boom goes the dynamite.”
“It’s not over till it’s over.”
“It’s a war.” (No. The only thing that can justifiably be compared to war is trying to enter any Costco the day after Thanksgiving.)
“He’s putting on a clinic.”
“The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.” (I prefer “The team whose doctors have the best masking agents will win.”)
“It’s a game of inches.”
“The kick splits the uprights.”
“They need to get on the same page.”
“He’s a real workhorse.”
“They brought their A-game.”
“He got his bell rung.”
“The momentum has swung.”
“He has a rifle for an arm.”
“He has a canon for an arm.”
“He has a Howitzer for an arm.”
“He has an arm for an arm.”
“You can’t arm tackle these guys.” (Yeah, but if you use anything but your arm you get flagged for targeting.)
“He’s learning a new system.”
“It’s going to come down to who has the ball last.”
“He’d play this game for free.” (Most off-putting when uttered about a player who held out for six weeks.)
“He’s a grown man.”
“He’s giving 110 percent.” (Nebraska defensive back Tre Neal recently said he’s giving “100,000 percent” which apparently still isn’t enough.)
“He’s like a greased pig in heat out there.” (This is a new cliché I’m trying to get started.)
Even worse is the cringe worthy proclivity of commentators to refer to a 300-pound player of color as “a big boy.” Really? I mean really?
While we’re on it I’m sick of analysts making reference to talking with a black player at “our meeting yesterday” and then saying something like, “I tell you, he’s a bright guy! He was easy to get along with!” with the same inflection as if the analyst were reporting that an alien spaceship landed in Times Square.
C’mon, guys. You wouldn’t say you were surprised by a Caucasian player unless he was from down south and spoke with a pronounced drawl. Then you might effusively praise the guy with the drawl and add, “He wasn’t wearing overalls either. I think he even had underwear on! Dave, did you notice his fingernails - they were clean!” “Yes, and he was not waving a Confederate flag, which surprised me. His breath didn’t reek of grits. He’s pure class. ”
One more sore point: folks in the booth claiming that teams trailing 31-6 or 48-10 in the fourth quarter “are still in this game.” What they really mean is, “There are greater odds that Bill Belichick agrees to be a contestant on ‘Dating Naked’ than the trailing team comes back, but if you turn off the game you’ll miss all the lite beer commercials featuring farting dogs.”
Commentators are well paid to be highly critical of every little mistake made by the people playing the games. It’s not asking too much for them to get their acts together. There’s still time, if they can find someone to coach ‘em up and are willing to give 110 percent because it’s not over till it’s over.