The sports calendar is sort of imbalanced, but once it gets moving, it has a lot of velocity.
For about four months in the summer you have pretty much nothing but baseball. And that lull is extremely brutal.
But once college football starts– boom! The NFL is the very next week. Hockey preseason starts two weeks after college football. NBA and college basketball media days begin and within a four week span “what am I ever going to write about?” has turned into “what topics will I have to cut?”
With all this competing for our attention, we have to make sure not to waste time. And 95% of the quotes we receive from players and coaches is as much a waste of our time as it is their time. And the higher up in the organization you go, the worse the corporatespeak becomes. GMs are more boring liars than the coaches, owners who rarely ever give interviews in the first place, are more “spin” than GMs.
On all levels, Media and Public Relations departments have done a bang-up job training organization members to give the most banal and sanitized statements possible. Often times, I’ve been able to predict exactly how a question will be responded to in a locker room or at a press conference, as soon as the reporter finishes asking the question.
Of course, the PR departments are just doing their jobs- it’s expected.
What kills me is when the journalists take the bait and just lazily repeat the shopworn and mind-numbing phrases. Given how we’re all on strict word counts and/or have a limited amount of time to broadcast our feature pieces, why would you waste that limited space on language that is utterly formulaic and dumbs everyone down?
You’d be surprised how often so many of these phrases make it to broadcast and publication. You’ll never change press conference culture, but you can change how you relate to it.
If you’ve been working in the media game more than six weeks and use the first cliché, the Granddaddy of them all…LEAVE NOW! GET A DIFFERENT JOB BECAUSE YOU CLEARLY SUCK AT TRYING TO DO THIS ONE………..
1.) “We’re just taking it one day/game/week/ at a time. We’re just focused on the next one right now. We’re not looking ahead on the schedule.”
This one is so overused that making fun of it is becoming cliché. Yet horrible uncreative “reporters” throw it in there. Absolute silence works better. Or maybe your segment should just get killed.
2.) “We needed this adversity/reality check/loss in order to keep us on target/track/goal oriented/focused on what we’re trying to do.”
Yeah keep telling yourself that, instead of just admitting that you sucked that day.
3.) “I couldn’t have done it without the Lord above/God/ my faith in Jesus because I’m just one man/one player/one component in a team game/concept.”
Why doesn’t anyone ever say anything about God or Jesus after a loss? Is losing strictly a secular endeavor? Doesn’t the Heavenly Father also interfere when you throw interceptions? Both “Bull Durham” and “Varsity Blues” have poked fun at this one. As well as some of the other major cliches.
4.) “We’re not concerned about their defensive schemes/game plan/home field advantage we only care about what we’re running/planning/our outlook. We’re just focusing on ourselves right now.”
This one is actually just more of a lie than it is a platitude, either way it should end up on the cutting room floor, just as much as the next one should.
5.) “We know they’re formidable/streaking right now/a good team despite their record. They are much better than their record/a much better team than the standings show/going to give us a much tougher game than it looks on paper.”
I also would have accepted “we just gotta stay focused” as an answer here.
I went with Tom Brady with the intro picture because he’s the most boring human being alive and this list is pretty much every interview he’s ever done in his life. Of course, Lovie Smith, Matt Forte, Cody Zeller, Tony Romo, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Jay Cutler etc. etc. etc. are just as bad soundbites as Brady.
6.) “I care about winning/making the playoffs/getting to the championship/ the team first, I’m not concerned with individual honors/records/trophies/statistics.”
I’ve pretty much given up asking any player anything about their stats or nominations for awards, because I know I’ll just hear “the only stat that matters are the Ws” and then I’ll desperately wish that I could have those minutes of my life back, because they were thrown away.
7.) “I’m just happy to be here. As long as I keep doing my job, everything will work out/take care of itself/end up where we should.”
I feel guilty for subjecting you to this mindless bromide.
Yes, and…..do you care to be specific on how you plan to do that Captain Obvious?
9.) Whenever you ask any rivalry question, you might get “Well, their fans hate us and our fans hate them.”
Yeah no sh@# Sherlock, care to add anything to that? And not be as boring as is humanly possible.
10.) “You don’t get too high after the wins, and you never get too low after the losses. It just all stays even keel”
The FCC should start fining people who say this. Make it illegal. It literally offends me.
I know George Carlin had a famous bit about the words you can’t say on television. These are words you just can’t say on sports programming- unless your motive is to turn your viewers away.
12.) “[Insert Talented Fr/So Player or rookie] is growing up right before our eyes”
13.) “He can make all the throws.”
Sometimes after the game, the press department types up a few specific quotes and hands them out. Why they type up insipid garbage like this is beyond me.
14.) “At the end of the day”……”it is what it is.”
15.) “Defense wins championships.”
Like Howard Beale said in “Network” tv is “the boredom killing business,” a “circus” or “carnival.” I think all of media is actually. But this phrase makes you MORE BORED. Peter Finch’s character in that brilliant, ahead-of-its-time masterwork was a mad prophet who saw today’s train wreck coming 40 years ago.
16.) “He’s a beast.”
Well, he’s really not, because you’re describing so many other players by this same exact term. You say this, your show is turned off instantly.
17.) “He’s a high-motor guy.”
This one came out of nowhere, and you just HEAR IT NON-STOP these days. I’d write more about it, but I’m getting queasy. Every time you rock this phrase upon the mic, you rock upon the mic WRONG!
18.) “He’s good at making plays IN SPACE.”
Whenever I hear this one, I think of bad science fiction: “(insert name of main character here) INNNNNN SPAAAAAAACEEEEE!!!!!!!.”
Or the old Daffy Duck cartoons- “Duck Dodgers, in the 24th and a half CENTURY!”
Seriously, I get what you’re trying to say, certain players do things in traffic, in the congestion of the trenches, and then there’s what these players do when in open spacing. I get your point, but it still sounds idiotic. Because we’re all “in space” of some sort all the time, how do you define that space?
It’s all relative man. Whoah broham, that’s deep. Pass the Funyans man.
Don’t bogart my stash dude!
19.) “(Insert player name here) must step up.”
This is Kirk Herbstreit’s bread-and-butter phrase.
If you really want to get Nick Nolte style wasted, start a drinking game revolving around this phrase and watch any contest that he is doing play-by-play. Beyond Herbstreit though, this phrase is pure tautology anyway. We know the point of this exercise is to be as good as you can be. To “step your game up” as Lil Jon would say. No need to remind us to “take it to the next level.”
20.) everything just resets/we just try to go 1-0 every week/each week we’re 0-0
It’s too bad they haven’t made true voice recognition software that transcribes your audio into typed script yet. I would pay hundreds of dollars for that product. DragonFly SUCKS!
Huge waste of money on software that promised to do just that. And it failed.
Next we need to invent a plugin for that product which automatically deletes/doesn’t transcribe words or phrases that you select. I would program every phrase on this list.
21.) “walk us through (insert play here)”
I HATE when reporters do this. Unless it’s “the shot heard round the world, or MJ over Ehlo or something like that, this exchange has a shelf life of about 3-4 hours. No one will care tomorrow. It’s fine for in the moment, but the answers never age well.
22.) “Play Michigan football/Butler basketball/The Oriole Way/The Patriot Way”
Ugh! We get it, you’re brainwashed by the organization.
23.) “Us against the world,” “Going to shock the world”
Yes, because Florida Gulf Coast University college basketball is JUST HUGE in Burkina Faso and Southern Uganda right now.
24.) “I out kicked my coverage/overachieved with my wife”
This is a coach/broadcaster one. Quit trying to use a news medium as a vehicle to desperately get out of the dog house/score points at home with your spouse.
25.) “lunch pail/blue-collar work ethic,”
Hey, NEWSFLASH: white-collar people work hard too! You make this remark in front of me, I’m gonna roll my eyes. If you’re offended by me rolling my eyes, so be it. Like Ivan Drago said regarding Apollo Creed:
“if he dies, he dies.”
Dishonorable mention: “a win is a win,” “there are no morale victories,” “it’s a passing league,” “it’s a quarterback driven league,” “it all starts with the quarterback,”
We all know these phrases make us dumber each time that we hear them. We delete or cut them the instant they are uttered (at least journalists that are trying to be half-way competent at their jobs do) because we know nothing is……….wait for it…………wait for it……………...”what they bring to the table.” (Had to ironically close with a cliche!)
I KNOW I MISSED A FEW! LEAVE THE CLICHES I LEFT OUT IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan and 1620 The Zone, he also writes for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook
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Filed under: Traditional Media