5 Unintentionally Silly Sports Words

Chad WallerContributor IAugust 14, 2012

5 Unintentionally Silly Sports Words

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    A common phrase in the oppressive land of Westeros is, “Words are wind and so are farts.” I believe Daenerys Targaryen was the first to utter the phrase, and like all truthful witticisms, the expression spread and soon everyone was saying it. Now only hipsters refuse to say it and we stone them to death for being witches.

    And that’s what I wish to look at today: words. Not wind or farts since they cannot be viewed but only felt and smelled.

    More specifically, I wish to look at sports words, sports terminology. I am not a sports journalist or a sports writer; no, I pretend to be an editor, though I like to think I pretend quite well. Editing is the Hobbes to my Calvin.

    I like words. I like it when people use them incorrectly because that makes me feel smart, and I like it when people use them in interesting ways because that helps the language evolve and change—be it a regression or a progression.

    Sports terminology is no different, and so, here we are.

Hat Trick

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    Psh, hat tricks. Hat tricks are child’s play, level one of magical spells. You don’t see Gandolf defeating the Balrog with a hat trick, you don’t see David Blaine performing street witchery with hat tricks and you don’t see Magic Mike using hat tricks to win over the ladies.

    Never once did any of the characters in Harry Potter use hat tricks, not even Neville who is a terrible wizard until the last book! (Okay, there was that Sorting Hat thing in the second novel, but that was a bit of a deus ex machina now wasn’t it?)

    Bullwinkle likes his hat tricks, but they never turn out well and Rocky is always quick to quip, “Now here’s something we hope you’ll really like.” 


    What It Actually Means

    Say, do you know what isn’t a hat trick or magical in the slightest of hands? Going to Wikipedia and typing a phrase in.

    “A hat-trick or hat trick in sports is the achievement of a positive feat three times during a game, or other achievements based on threes. The term was first used in 1858 in cricket to describe HH Stephenson's feat of taking three wickets in three balls. A collection was held for Stephenson, and he was presented with a hat bought with the proceeds.”

In Space

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    So, there are apparently certain athletes that play much better in space. I didn’t know there were so many athletes who are also astronauts. You’d think that would get more media attention than it does (it currently gets zero media attention).

    “Hey sport’s fans, did you know this European footballer plays European football BETTER in space? Well, we’re going to interview him shortly, and he’ll tell us why no one cares!”

    The first game of European football in space ended in catastrophe as everyone died. The world was baffled until Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded everyone that there is no oxygen in space and that people need oxygen to live. It’s also apparently really cold there.

    The first game of football in space also ended in catastrophe as Gilbert Brown of the Green Bay Packers caught a ball and was directly propelled towards the earth due to space’s lack of gravity and friction. What didn’t burn up in the atmosphere crashed into a Fiat 500, completely destroying it. One Italian mobster was killed in the accident.


    What It Actually Means

    I honestly don’t know for sure. The definitive answer probably lies somewhere out in space; one day a group of astronauts will boldly go where no man has gone before in a five-year mission to uncover this mystery…and find new life and civilizations of course.

    The first result you get when you Google “sports terminology ‘in space’” is a blog entry titled, “Sports Terms You Want Banished.” The third entry is another blog titled, “Overused Terms/Phrases/Cliches in Sports Media.” The rest of the entries seem to be garbage with the exception of the 9th link which talks about spatial awareness.

    So my educated guess (educated as far as I used Google when Dictionary.com and Wikipedia both failed me) is that a player who plays well in space has high spatial awareness.

    Because “space” is one of those fun words with a multitude of meanings—it’s where earth is located, it’s a bar on a keyboard, it’s what women need, etc.—it’s not exactly hard to imagine it worming its way into the sports lexicon.


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    Hahahahaha. It’s funny because scat means poo!

    Say reader, what is your favorite football position? Do you prefer the it’s-runny back or the porterback? The placesitter sure is an interesting position! What’s more important, the wide receiver or the tight end?

    What’s your favorite football team? I personally prefer the Pittsburgh Stoolers.


    What It Actually Mean

    In an effort to make myself look smarter than I really am, I looked up this word in the Oxford English Dictionary which defines scatback as, “A fast-running backfield player.” Wikipedia agrees with that definition, so it must be right. The first written instance of the word occurred in 1946 in the December edition of The Sun. That particular sentence reads, “They made it 14-0…with an intercepted pass by Dante Magnani, the scatback from St. Mary's of California.”

    So, that’s a little boring.

    But, “scat” has more meanings than just “poop.” In fact, the word has a lengthy history, from “treasure” to slang for “whiskey” to a type of jazz singing, though we are only concerned with it as a colloquialism for “begone” first recorded in 1838.

    See, it’s no stretch of the imagination to assume that the word was paired with “back” as a kind of synonym for extra-fast running backs since they have to scat to the end zone as fast as possible.


Tommy John Surgery

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    I wonder if there is a Ricky Bobby surgery for NASCAR drivers that drastically injure their butt cheeks from leaning to the left so much.

    I see countless reports of baseball players recovering from Tommy John surgery; Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, Chad Johnson, George Washington, Joss Whedon, Michael David Schwimmer, Ty Wiggleton, Rafael Nadal, Shonen Jump, Kurt Rossow, Tiger Woods, Elijah Woods, James Woods, Kevin Bacon. Yup, that sure is a lot of baseball players who had the surgery.

    I guess Tommy John is a bit of a jerk. Never trust someone with two first names. Well, except Ray Charles; that man’s voice is like velvet.


    What It Actually Means

    So, the television always tells me to go to WebMD.com for all of my medical needs. I figure if that site is good enough for television, its good enough for Bleacher Report.

    WebMD says, “Tommy John surgery repairs an injured elbow ligament…The surgery is named after former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John. In 1974, he underwent the first surgery of this type.”

    During the surgery, a surgeon (fancy that) takes a tendon from somewhere else in the patient’s body and replaces their torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) with it. If all goes well, your tendons heal too tightly giving your 12-year-old-self superhuman pitching abilities. You then join the Chicago Cubs and save their failing team.

    Oh, that’s the plot to Rookie of the Year.


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    Birds have wings, airplanes have wings, bats have wings, certain insects have wings, Wile E. Coyote has wings when he puts on an ACME rubber suit with wings in an optimistic effort to catch that dastardly Roadrunner, but people, people do not have wings.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. There is LeScraw James.

    A Dr. Alan Grant decided we needed a new type of basketball player, but as a paleontologist, he saw only one option before him. He located as much amber containing fossilized mosquitoes as he could and eventually extracted the DNA he needed. Using frog DNA to fill in the missing gaps in the 150,000 year old DNA strands, he combined his mad-scientist soup with an ostrich egg.

    The rest, as the winners say, is history.

    Possessing a wingspan of 20-feet and a powerful beak capable of eating medium-sized mammals, LeScraw James is…well…not very good at basketball. I mean, he’s a friggin' pterodactyl. He doesn’t have any hands. He tries really hard though, and damn, do I have to say it again? He’s a friggin' pterodactyl!

    Coach Erik Spoelstra uses a laser pointer to get LeScraw James to move around the field—bless his heart, he’s like a cat—he shines it on the basketball when he wants James to go for it in hopes of scoring a goal. The problem is, James is kind of territorial and that basketball instinctively reminds him of a pterodactyl egg. When he gets it, he tends to fly it away to his nest and pecks anyone in the face who tries to retrieve it.

    But man, he tries really, really hard…for a pterodactyl.

    He hates the Toronto Raptors because raptors killed his mother and ate his father.

    He’s changing the game of basketball and when asked if he thought he had a place in the 2016 Summer Olympics, he responded with, “SCRAW!”

    Word has it that the Los Angeles Lakers are getting their own Paleolithic player named Kobe Bryantasaurus…who is a brontosaurus.


    What It Actually Means

    Well, that should be pretty obvious. A wingspan is a measurement of wings and the term is applied to basketball. I’m not really sure why arm span is a term that exists, though it’s sadly two words instead of one. I suppose that makes it inferior.

    I don’t know when the jargon term of the word came about. The Oxford English Dictionary isn’t any help and neither is Dictionary.com.