Cliches, especially the sports variety, were born out of necessity. Professional athletes, despite many having college educations, are ill-prepared for public speaking–hence their dependence on the dreaded sports cliche. This is not a knock against athletes…being able to speak well off the top of their heads is not in their job description. Very rarely is found an athlete who actually gives *gasp* insight into a game, team, or upcoming series…usually it’s just a regurgitation of the same old cliches floating around lockerrooms everywhere.
For the most part, sports cliches are tolerable–which means that while cringeworthy, they don’t make me want to stab myself in the ears with an icepick. These five cliches, the epitome of bad sports cliches, have been so overused, that it’s time they be put out to pasture, never to be heard or seen from again.
1. I just went out there and gave 110%.
Hoo boy. First off, I’m not even going to go into the mathematics of exerting 110% effort. Needless to say, no one can give more than 100% effort…it’s an absolute number. But that’s not the problem. Why only 110%? Why not 150%, or 200%, or 1000%? And why is giving 100% effort suddenly not good enough on the field? And what are our kids learning anyway…that, despite giving 100% of your best effort, you’re wasting your time, because there’s going to be that kid out there giving 10% more than you are?
Alternative: I went out there and gave an effort in keeping with the requirements of my contract.
2. It is what it is.
This cliche has really gained in popularity over the last few years. It’s basically a catch-all for athletes and coaches and such to use to help explain a mistake, bad call, railroading of a former teammate, etc. Except that it doesn’t explain anything. When a player or coach resorts to the “it is what it is” line, rest assured, the interviewer isn’t going to find out why such-and-such a player threw an interception into triple coverage, costing his team the game, or why such-and-such a player coerced management into trading away another player. It’s a technique called “glossing over the truth,” used by many a politician, that has made it’s way into the sports world. It has to go, because hey, accountability should still count for something, right?
Alternative: I lost my composure, and screwed up royally. My bad.
3. We’re taking it one game at a time.
On the surface, this makes sense, since teams can only play one game at a time. But as a cliche, it’s riddled with inaccuracies. Sure, a coach and/or player will say they’re not scanning the schedule and assessing future opponents, because it’s a nice, safe thing to say, especially during a winning/losing streak, or when the star player is out with an injury, but it’s bullshit. Sorry folks, but I have a hard time believing that Joe Girardi is 100% focused on the KC Royals, with a series against the Red Sox looming on the horizon, the same way Sean Payton wouldn’t plan his schedule around the return of an injured Drew Brees.
Alternative: We’re already preparing for (insert worthy opponent here), because honestly, the (insert weaker Mets-like team here) is of no concern.
4. They just wanted it more.
To quote Homer Simpson, “that’s just loser talk.” Actually, it literally is the words of a loser. The cliche is just a convoluted way of explaining why one team lost a particularly close game. Which is ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that in a close battle, one team would want the win more than another. Or that they unlocked some deep, hidden effort, that willed them to victory. Here’s something…maybe with two evenly matched teams, who presumably have equal desire to capture victory, there’s one thing, other than want, that decided who would come out on top. A little thing I like to call…luck. Yes, luck does exist in sports, and it’s responsible for deciding the victors in many a sporting contest. Talent disparity, failure to execute, biased officiating, and luck all play a part in determining a winner…want, not so much. Now, if you’re on a team that actually wanted victory less, well, you deserve to lose…although I doubt very much that such a team exists.
Alternative: We wanted to win as bad as they did, they just sucked a little less than us.
5. This team showed a lot of courage, and overcame a lot of adversity.
Anytime I hear an athlete mention the words courage or adversity, I cringe. In sports, courage is usually defined as playing hurt, while adversity is something along the lines of playing without one or more valuable players in the lineup. Just shows how out of touch with reality athletes, coaches and broadcasters (yes, they’re guilty too) actually are. The term courage, or courageous, should be reserved for firefighters and cops and people in the military, those who risk their lives for others, not a millionaire athlete who played through a slight hamstring pull. As for adversity, look up Jim Abbott. That’s adversity. The Patriots playing all season without Tom Brady is not.
Alternative: We played well behind the $2 million backup, as opposed to our $8 million starter. Now excuse me, I have to pick up my model girlfriend in my tricked-out Bentley.