Sports Phrases That Need To Go

Justin SmithCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2009

There have been many great phrases spawned from the sporting landscape. Some of the most articulate and poetic people of my generation have been sportscasters and announcers.

You get it all in the world of sports vocabulary. There's tried and true cliches, media glad-handing, politico-speak in which you say a lot of words and nothing of substance, attacking players and teams through the media, etc.

This is not an article about great quotes in sports history. Rather, this is an article regarding my opinion as to which phrases have become overused, are stupid or pointless, or simply offensive. Some have elements of all.

Some of these are not limited to the sporting landscape and have a hold on the whole of society, but are used ad nauseum in sports talk, so they make the list.

The first is probably the best example of combining overusage with ignorance and insensitivity.


Drinking the Kool-Aid

When someone has faith or hope that their team, who is usually not very good, will improve, or when someone looks at their team with blinders on with a willingness to believe anything and everything positive about one's team, they are "drinking the kool-aid."

Notwithstanding that I don't personally like the phrase at all and it's pervasiveness in sports message boards is reaching epic proportions, it is probably the most insensitive of all of the phrases commonly uttered in chat rooms by fans.

I get the sneaking suspicion that, since it has become ingrained in fan-speak, many who use the phrase have no idea of its origins nor its implications.

For those of you who don't know the history behind the phrase, I'll give a brief synopsis:

Jim Jones was the leader and founder of the People's Temple, a pseudo-religious organization started in 1955. Jones grew up reading about leaders such as Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini, studying their strengths and weaknesses.

This served him well as leader of the People's Temple, as his agenda was one of dark foreboding. He would need all the charisma and charm he could get to convince people to go along with his ideas, which included communist ideals and fundamentalist religious viewpoints.

In 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana, Jones, having broken the will and spirit of his congregation through years of abuse and poor treatment, ordered them to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid.

Jones had spoken of the members committing suicide in the past, and even sponsored suicide-style rituals leading up to the actual "drinking of the kool-aid." This time, though, they went through with it.

Jones did not, and died from a gunshot wound instead.

918 people died, which was the greatest single loss of American civilian life not related to a natural disaster until the horrific events of September 11th.

This phrase is trite, tired, and played out, and certainly insensitive to say the least based on its origins. It needs to go, and it needs to go now. 


The New York "Football" Giants/ Any phrase where "golf" is used to describe golf

Not much explanation needed here. I like the Giants, but hey guys; we know what sport you play. There hasn't been a New York Giants baseball team in most of our lifetimes, and even then it was a very short stint.

It's time to cut the cord.

Same goes for golf announcers. Football announcers are getting bad with it as well, but they still have a long way to go before they reach the level of integrating the name of their sport into every turn of phrase they use.

"Terrific golf shot"

"He needs to get under the golf ball"

And so on. Enough already. Much like the New York Giants, we know what sport is being played, and we don't need you to remind us every third word, David Feherty.



Okay, this one needs to go back into street lingo. Dave Chappelle's "Playa Haters Ball" was hilarious. But once again, sports fans have taken a perfectly good, perfectly humorous phrase, and turned it into grating terminology.

If you criticize anyone in the sporting world or any team (even if it's your own, and even if it's legitimate) you're a hater. Let's think about this for a second.

When I was growing up I was told not to use the word "hate" because of the weight that it carried. If you "hate" something, then it goes beyond dislike. It's a palpable feeling that starts at the back of your neck and creeps throughout your body until you feel either a) very angry or b) very ill.

I'm not saying there aren't "haters" out there. But when everyone becomes a "hater" simply because you disagree with them, the weight of the word is lost and it simply becomes another term like "jerk" or "loser." When something is overused it loses its clout.

In the immortal words of Milhouse Van Houten, "I've said the words jiminy-jillikers so many times the words have lost all meaning!"  


"It is what it is"

Guilty myself of using this redundant phrase more than once in everyday life, I nonetheless cringe whenever I do. It is perhaps the most patently unnecessary phrase in our social vernacular, yet it is spouted off by more sports personalities than anything since "Give 110 percent!!"

As you can probably tell since I'm a Raider fan, I love Lane Kiffin. This guy is the king of "it is what it is." I lost count after 150 times last season. Sometimes it's a nice way of saying I don't want to answer your question, or if I did answer, you wouldn't like the answer.

More often it's a great way to use words that mean nothing to convey a point that means nothing. It is what it is? Thanks. I couldn't have figured that one out myself.

Please feel free to comment and add any other phrases I may have missed. There are tons, but these are the ones that stick out (and in my craw) more than any others.

Oh well. I don't want to be a hater. I guess it is what it is.