Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sports Talk

There is no "I" in team. This is a lesson that could be learned in an elementary school, after a spelling test. Or maybe while your friend is looking over your shoulder as you are painting an oversized poster for the upcoming rally, and he leans in to say, "Hey. There is no 'I' in team." Well, thank you very much, I'll fix that right away. The thing is, that doesn't happen very often. It is a cliche that is spoken in harsh tones to a group of individuals who are supposed to be working together by a coach, usually. Sometimes it is a member of the group who is hoping to instill a sense of cooperation and shared purpose. It doesn't have to be an athletic endeavor. That phrase gets as much play in meeting rooms as it does in locker rooms. Those of us with an inclination toward smart aleckness will point out that there is "me" in team. And "meat." 
So it goes with this sports cliche nonsense. When I hear, "he really came to play," it makes me wonder if there are some guys out there on the field, court, ice or prescribed athletic surface that showed up with other things in mind. Perhaps he came to see if there were any jerseys in his size. Maybe he is hoping to get in some reading or catch up on his email. Or it could be that he is there simply to pick up a paycheck and therefore he probably needs to be reminded that there is no "I" in team. 
Those who have showed up to work on their taxes would probably not be accused of "giving one hundred and ten percent." If they did, it would probably be a good idea to keep him away from anything that might require anything beyond the most rudimentary math skills. One hundred percent describes a whole, or the entirety of something, even when it is someone's effort. Each individual may have a different capacity or range of abilities, but what they can deliver at any given moment is part of that whole, right up to one hundred percent. Unless, of course there is a "we" in "I" which does not exist in "team." 
All of this is to suggest that the way we talk about sports, they don't always make sense. The use of hyperbole is rampant on the sidelines and in the announcer's booth. It helps keep our sports contests just this side of reality. Spelling and math are hard in the real world, but in the Wide World of Sports, they are completely up for grabs. For those of us who came to play. 

No comments: