Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sports Talkers

I give credit to sports reporters and commentators. Sure, they're cliche-ridden. In addition to the usual nomenclature, this year's flavor of the tongue in football includes "makes plays" as in this player/offense/defense not only does this and that, but most importantly, they "make plays." Another favorite concerns players who are good "in space." They don't mean outer space, but in what used to be called the "open field." Or sometimes, just when not in direct contact with other bodies. And therefore the cliche of the year has to do with players capable of "making plays in space." That's good, you see.

So plenty of cliches old and new, but at the end of the day---hah, an old favorite--I give credit to sports talkers (particularly on ESPN) who still know, understand and employ the distinction between "fewer" and "less." So they describe a team as having "fewer points," or a defense that is making "fewer interceptions" this year, etc. And I also note that Keith Olbermann, sportscaster as well as political talker, observes the classical definition of "presently," meaning "soon," not "currently."

It's not just a case of proper use of English, but of having something interesting to say. (Though they often go together.) Certain commentators, like Merle Hodge, are especially knowledgeable and informative. And I've watched Sunday Night Football on NBC even when I didn't care much about the teams playing, just for the coverage by Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth.

Of course, there are plenty of sports talkers who talk blather, and do so incoherently. I heard one guy trying to fill time in a dull game today praise a coach for transforming a college program "singlehandedly, with a lot of help from other people." I turned him off.

No comments: